Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Seventh Report

3  Governance

145.  As part of its "new partnership" set out in the 1999 White Paper the Government made clear that it expected Overseas Territories to observe the highest standards of governance (see para 12, Chapter 2). However, a review carried out in 2003 by an FCO official commissioned to assess progress since the 1999 White Paper drew attention to a number of concerns about governance, including:

  • problems posed by small populations, particularly in recruiting positions in administrations, resolving conflicts of interest, and managing immigration and residence status;
  • governance issues in certain Overseas Territories, including corruption, financial management and regulation of financial services; and
  • in some cases, little accountability due to the lack of developed society, strong legislature and/or vibrant press.[270]

146.  At the 2005 OTCC the Government proposed that Overseas Territories should agree "principles of good governance". This was discussed again in 2006 and a paper was agreed which was published in the Overseas Territories.[271] However, during our inquiry we received a lot of evidence which suggested that issues raised in the 2003 review still needed to be addressed. In the first part of this Chapter we consider serious allegations of corruption in the Turks and Caicos Islands. We then examine governance concerns expressed in evidence from Anguilla and Bermuda, and wider issues about levels of transparency and accountability raised in some other Overseas Territories. Next we consider two other aspects of good governance: the rule of law and the protection of human rights. Finally we consider environmental governance in the Overseas Territories. This Chapter does not look at standards of regulation of financial services which we consider in paras 297 to 313 of the following Chapter on contingent liabilities.

Allegations of corruption in the Turks and Caicos Islands

147.  Since 2000, the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) has experienced economic growth among the highest in the world.[272] Given this economic success we did not initially expect to receive many submissions from the Islands. However, by far the largest proportion of evidence which we received from any Overseas Territory came from TCI. Over 50 individuals from TCI wrote to us, many alleging corruption, for instance in regard to the sale of Crown land, the distribution of contracts and development agreements, the granting of Belongerships (a status which indicates freedom from any immigration restrictions and also confers rights normally associated with citizenship, including the right to vote[273]) and the misuse of public funds. These concerns were further highlighted in meetings we held in private with individuals during our visit to TCI. A constant theme across the allegations was concern about freedom of speech on the Islands.

148.  We set out the various allegations we have received in detail below, before considering the response of TCI's government to the allegations made and examining the role of the Governor and the FCO. Since it was raised in evidence to us, we also note that at the time of writing the Premier of TCI was being investigated by US law enforcement agencies for the alleged rape of a US citizen. However, we do not consider it appropriate for us to comment on this issue.

149.  As we have already explained (see paras 127 to 131 above), many of the submissions we received were sent to us in confidence and so we are not able to quote from them. Where we do quote from individual Turks and Caicos Islanders in this Report, we have received their explicit permission to do so. In what follows we make significant use of a public submission from the Leader of the Opposition in TCI, Hon E. Floyd Seymour. However, we wish to emphasise that many of his allegations were supported by evidence submitted to us in confidence from across TCI's community. Witnesses alleging corruption ranged from Belongers to expatriate work permit holders, from church leaders to representatives of the business community. We also note that allegations did not only relate to the present government. Lee Ingham, a native TCI Islander living in the US who described himself as non-partisan, with friends in both government and opposition parties, told us:

[…] in my opinion, with a few exceptions, members of both […TCI's political parties], when they are in the government, seem to use their positions for self-aggrandizement and control their offices as little fiefdoms to dole out the country's largesse to their loyal followers and humble serfs.[274]

Sale of Crown land

150.  Crown land is a major resource on TCI, which has built its economic growth on real estate and tourism. Many witnesses expressed concern that it was being sold off in an unsustainable fashion by the government to fund current investment (see management of public money below).

151.  Even more seriously, many individuals alleged that land was being sold for the personal benefit of TCI government members and their relatives and supporters. Mr Gibbs, a TCI Belonger and member of a group, the Turks and Caicos Forum, which is calling for improved governance in TCI, told us that Crown land seemed to be "treated as a spoil of political victory".[275] The Leader of the Opposition claimed that government ministers had awarded themselves Crown land either directly or through close relatives for selling on to prospective developers for profit. In support of this allegation, he adduced a copy of an Executive Council minute showing the award of freehold titles and copies of offers to purchase from a developer dated a month before the titles were awarded.[276] We also received an allegation from the Chairman of the party in opposition, Shaun Malcolm, that a minister had destroyed Mr Malcolm's award of Crown land as punishment for Mr Malcolm's opposition activities (see freedom of speech below).[277]

152.  It was also suggested to us that Crown land was being undervalued before being sold. The Leader of the Opposition alleged that the Premier had been able to purchase over 18 acres of prime beach front Crown land at a fraction of its market value.[278] Mr Gibbs alleged that ministers with significant interest in real estate entities were making grants of land to constituents who had not even made applications, and were then inviting the targeted constituents to accept the grant with the understanding that the minister would sell the land for them and provide them with a fair share of the proceeds.[279]

153.  It was also alleged that abuses of government decision-making have had an adverse environmental impact. For instance, the Leader of the Opposition alleged that zones of national parks had been changed so that land could be granted to ministers.[280]

Contracts and development agreements

154.  We also received allegations of corrupt practices in relation to distribution of contracts. The Leader of the Opposition alleged conflicts of interest in the following areas:

  • The contract for the management of the overseas referral programme for health care.[281] The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that the new provider charged twice as much as the company that had had the contract when the opposition were in power and claimed that the new provider's owner had close links with the government and had made a significant contribution to its party's election campaign.
  • TCI's affordable housing programme. The Leader of the Opposition alleged that the Premier's nephew was a "principal" in the company given Crown land at a discount to construct the homes.[282]
  • Renting of offices for government use. The Leader of the Opposition alleged that some government departments were being asked to relocate offices to a building being built by the Premier and his wife and that the Ministry of Finance was being relocated to a building owned by the Minister of Finance.
  • Purchase of property for government use. The Leader of the Opposition claimed that houses of ministers' relatives were being bought by the government, and that this had been "for far in excess of the market value".[283]

155.  Mr Peter Williams, also a member of the Turks and Caicos Forum, claimed that road-building contracts had been awarded to companies owned by government ministers and that ministers were also using "cronies as surrogates for the purpose of themselves benefiting from both public and private contracts".[284]

156.  It was also alleged that ministers were accepting and requesting bribes from investors.[285] The Leader of the Opposition said that he had heard allegations of telephone companies "being strongarmed for equity" by ministers with licenses delayed until equity was granted.[286] Mr Ingham told us:

It appears that any and every investment in the country is gotten as a result of kick-back to a government minister or his/her immediate family. It is true that the country is experiencing economic growth, but it is too obvious that the government ministers and their close supporters and their immediate relations are accumulating great wealth as a consequence of their being in their positions. If you consider the wealth of these people pre-control of the government, while and post-control of the government, the discrepancy becomes too obvious.[287]

157.  The Leader of the Opposition told us that the Premier had declared assets worth $50,000 when he took office in August 2003, but by February 2004 he had "purchased property valued at $2.3million without a mortgage and built a multi-million pound property".[288] He also told us that ministers who before coming into office had driven borrowed cars and had a very low net worth, had now bought multimillion homes and land.[289] Mr Peter Williams suggested that the Premier's residence had been built by contractors who planned to recoup this cost by being awarded government contracts for the building of two new hospitals on TCI.[290]

158.  Many people also expressed concern that development approvals were being granted without due consideration of their environmental impact. Ms Barrington, a permanent TCI resident, told us that it appeared that agreements were "not based on any reasonable protection of the natural resources which have made this country prosperous" and highlighted "Leeward Marina and Star Island Projects, the development of Bonefish Point, the development on Long Bay Beach, the total development of Grace Bay and the Bight, the selling outright of small islands […as] perhaps an indication that the future is of no value to those making these decisions."[291]

159.  Mr Colin Williams, a permanent TCI resident, also expressed concern about the Leeward and Star Island projects arguing that they would cause "environmental chaos", including excessive spoil extraction and the destruction of a coral reef. He told us:

[…] recent events question whether we are pursuing development as part of a rationale economic policy? The benefits (to Belongers) are unevenly spread and the beneficiaries of exaggerated development are a variety of ex-patriate construction workers; foreign developers and perhaps politicians — who make statements about environmental protection, sustainable development and professional governance — but to little effect.[292]

160.  The RSPB told us that Protected Areas had been degazetted to allow for built development.[293] Our attention was also drawn to a recent article in the National Geographic Magazine which listed the Turks and Caicos Islands as joint second-to-last in a ranking of 111 islands as tourist destinations, suggesting that overdevelopment in TCI was already beginning to affect its reputation as a high-end tourist destination.[294]

Granting of Belongerships and Permanent Resident Certificates

161.  Becoming a Belonger of the Turks and Caicos Islands is of great importance to individuals on TCI since it is the only status which confers rights usually associated with citizenship, such as the right to vote.[295] Those with a Permanent Resident Certificate do not have these rights, although they are also free from immigration restrictions.

162.  Under TCI law there are three main ways in which Belonger status can be acquired: by birth (or lawful adoption); after five years of marriage to a Belonger; or by "having made a significant social or economic contribution to the development of the Islands". Applications via the latter two routes are approved by Cabinet (see "Role of Governor" below for further discussion of this).[296] A notice of intention to grant a Certificate of Belonger Status must then appear in a local paper for two consecutive issues before the status is granted.[297]

163.  During our inquiry we received allegations that Belongerships and Permanent Residence Certificates (PRCs) were being granted to individuals outside TCI's law. The Leader of the Opposition told us that he had heard allegations of people paying bribes to ministers to receive such status. He drew our attention to the case of an individual, Paul Keeble, who had sworn an affidavit that bribes had been paid to government ministers in return for his work permit being denied and that he had then paid an even greater bribe in an attempt to overturn this.[298] Concerns were also raised that government members' spouses were receiving Belongerships after less than five years of marriage.

164.  It was also suggested to us that Belonger status was being granted to questionable individuals via the "significant social or economic contribution" route so that ministers could benefit from business relationships with these people. Witnesses argued that this should be of great concern to the UK government since British Overseas Territories Citizenship can be acquired almost automatically twelve months after an individual has being granted Belonger (or PRC) status.

165.  The Leader of the Opposition also expressed concern that the Immigration Change Office responsible for advising Cabinet on the granting of Belongerships and PRCs was the nephew of the Premier and the Secretary General of the governing party.[299] Ms Barrington highlighted the fact that, after over five years of failed applications and delays, she and her husband had finally been offered permanent residence status, on payment of fee, four days before the 2007 general election on TCI.[300]

Management of public finances

166.  The National Audit Office's report into Managing Risk in the Overseas Territories highlighted the proper management of public finances as a key risk in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Its concerns included the following:

  • "expenditure consistently and repeatedly incurred in excess of annual budgets, across most government departments and without prior statutory authorisation" ($123 million outturn in 2004-05 compared to an estimate of $108 million), with financial controls "routinely overridden" and projects and programmes "added informally throughout the year";
  • "reliance on unplanned surpluses over budget revenue", in particular use of proceeds of sales of Crown land to meet current account deficits (land sale receipts 12% of government income in 2004-05);
  • rising public sector debt (from $6 million in 2001 to $47 million in 2005); and
  • "widespread" departures from competitive tendering.[301]

167.  During our inquiry witnesses reiterated these concerns. The Leader of the Opposition alleged that there had been a "complete disregard for the tendering process" with contracts awarded for millions above their value, including a road building contract awarded for almost twice the lowest bid.[302] The TCI government's budget report for 2007/08 showed an annual deficit of $38 million and that the government was overdrawn on its bank accounts by $6 million.[303]

168.  Witnesses also raised other concerns relating to the management of public finances. The Leader of the Opposition highlighted the conclusions of the 2005 audit of the National Insurance Board which had found that the Board lacked key basic financial controls. The auditors also expressed concerns that financial records presented for the audit had been deliberately adjusted to disguise the Board's true financial position. The Leader of the Opposition told us that the National Insurance Scheme was "the only social security/pension fund available to thousands of Turks and Caicos Islanders" and warned that its misuse or poor management might have "dire effects". He also highlighted that the National Insurance Board was breaching its investment policy in its investments in TCI Bank. [304]

169.  We also received allegations about the misuse of public funds. Mr Ingham told us, "I seriously believe that government funds are being used as personal bank accounts".[305] The Leader of the Opposition also argued that millions were being spent on "private entertainment" for ministers. Witnesses also expressed alarm at the latest figures in the Turks and Caicos Islands' budget for expenditure on the Premier's salary and expenses. Questions were also raised about the chartering of a private jet for official ministerial travel. We also received allegations that bribes had been paid in elections, although the Governor told us that electoral observers had found that the elections were fair.

Freedom of speech

170.  Many witnesses expressed concern about restrictions on freedom of speech on the Islands. The Leader of the Opposition told us that the government had intervened in broadcasts of its activities by a radio station. The opposition had appealed against the decision not to broadcast a press conference but this appeal had never been heard.[306] Shaun Malcolm alleged that his television programme had been cancelled because it criticised the government.[307] Ben Roberts, a TCI Belonger and member of the Turks and Caicos Forum, also told us that a niece and nephew of the Premier were now involved in day to day running of operations at TCI's television station.[308]

171.  We were given a DVD of a meeting of the governing party in which the Premier described the opposition as "traitors" for submitting evidence to our inquiry. This is a matter of concern to us, as is the fact that a pro-government newspaper in TCI radically misreported comments made during one of our evidence sessions.[309] The Leader of the Opposition also highlighted to us that following our visit to TCI an advert had appeared in this newspaper threatening members of the opposition who had written to our inquiry.[310]

172.  The Leader of the Opposition also suggested that the Attorney General and Chief Justice might be subject to political interference.[311] Suspicions were expressed by others about recent arson attacks on TCI's courthouse and the Chamber of the Attorney General. Ben Roberts copied us into an e-mail to the Governor in which he wrote:

This is quite unnatural. Turks & Caicos, and especially its government buildings, has never had fires on such a scale […]. There is a lot of speculation in the country that these fires are not by any stretch of the imagination accidental, given our history of rarity of fires, along with the pattern of sites that have caught fire.[312]

173.  The Leader of the Opposition spoke of a "general atmosphere of fear and intimidation" in TCI.[313] Lee Ingham told us:

[…] the politics of fear so pervades the country that people are afraid to speak in certain group settings, the newspapers do not engage in any sort of investigative journalism and those who do attempt to shed light on some of the illegal, immoral activities of those in power, are ostracized and/or marginalized. I fear for the future of my native country if the current trend continues.[314]

Ben Roberts also described a "climate of fear" pervading TCI and gave us an example:

I recently spoke with someone who did nothing more than send out a mass email informing and encouraging T&C Islanders to get their comments in to your Government and FCO and express themselves in any way they can. I applauded her on her civic action. However, she reported incurring the displeasure of a Government official for doing this, and in our phone contact she was cautious and careful, moving to another extension that she felt was safe to talk to me from.[315]

174.  We witnessed this climate of fear for ourselves when we visited the Turks and Caicos Islands. Alarmingly for a British Overseas Territory, many individuals expressed great concern about being seen to be talking to British parliamentarians and some individuals declined to meet us altogether for this reason.

175.  Although the Leader of the Opposition alleged that the Premier had assaulted a member of the opposition[316] and some witnesses expressed concerns about intimidation by Special Police Immigration and Customs Enforcement teams, our experience was that as a general rule witnesses did not fear physical reprisals. Rather they expressed concern that they might lose significant investments in the Islands because of the withdrawal of their work permits or damage to their business opportunities; or that their families might fail to benefit from access to scholarships[317] and overseas healthcare (see above). Shaun Malcolm, the Chairman of the opposition party, alleged that his employer had been forced by the government to lay him off.[318] Richard Sankar, a businessman, claimed that he had put on a list of people that the Immigration Department would not allow back into the country simply for resigning from a business run by the Misick family.[319] He later told us that his name had been removed from the stop list, but that he was still trying to get a fair review of his application for permanent residence.[320] Mr Barrington Williams, a TCI Belonger, told us:

[…] if you do not abide by this government standards such as a supporter of their party or comply with their policies then you are ill treated. […] when you try to get something done through the government, legitimately, there are delays, […] such as if you are trying to get a liquor license for a restaurant […][321]

TCI government response

176.  We questioned the Premier of TCI about the allegations we had received when he appeared before us in December 2007. He replied:

I have not seen any submissions, but on the general allegation of corruption […] we categorically deny that there is any corruption at government level […]

Unfortunately, in small countries such as ours there are always allegations of corruption, particularly from our opposition activists coming out of an election. Much of what is alleged cannot be substantiated. It is unfortunate that potential leaders would try to put the good name of a country through the mud by making such allegations.[322]

177.  TCI's Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier also argued that the concerns about public financial management raised in the National Audit Office's report were "unbalanced" and reflected "a parting blow" to TCI's government by the Chief Auditor on completion of her contract.[323] He responded to points raised in the report as follows:

  • where expenditure incurred in excess of Budget this was to allow TCI "to take advantage of important development opportunities", and was approved by Cabinet in advance and then by supplementary legislation in the House of Assembly;
  • some development projects had happened before a budget was agreed and TCI's government planned to address this in future, but there would "always be circumstances when projects will have to be introduced due to emergencies and new opportunities";
  • it was "totally incorrect" to say the government relied on sale of public land to meet current account deficits - a "fundamental principle" of the government was not to liquidate fixed assets to finance recurrent expenditure, although "on occasion", due to restrictions on borrowing, the government had use land sale proceeds to meet the cost of capital development programmes;
  • rising public sector debt needed to be considered in the context of improving TCI's infrastructure in order to allow economic growth; all this debt was approved under UK borrowing guidelines and TCI's borrowing indicators were very low by international standards; and
  • TCI "always" observed competitive tendering, but its financial regulations allowed tender requirements to be waived in certain instances, which the government had done "to speed up project implementation".

The Minister also said TCI was currently assessing offers of assistance from the FCO for carrying out reforms to strengthen financial management.[324]

178.  As evidence of a commitment to transparency, the Premier pointed out that an anti-corruption Bill was currently passing through TCI's House of Assembly, and highlighted the fact that TCI had a tenders board, a process for the allocation of Crown land, a register of interests and an independently appointed Attorney General.[325] He also argued that Belonger status was granted by Cabinet, rather than particular individuals, according to the criteria set out in TCI law, and that the Governor could, on the advice of the Secretary of State, choose not to take the Cabinet's advice if he had concerns (see Role of Governor below).[326] The Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier also told us that as TCI was a small island economy it was "impossible" for the government not to do business with companies owned by family members; but that ministers did declare interests.[327]

179.  During our visit to the Turks and Caicos Islands the Premier also emphasised that he had introduced a quarterly press conference, that TCI's Public Accounts Committee was chaired by the opposition, that the Attorney General and the Chief Auditor had powers to carry out investigations, that every single development had to have an environment impact assessment and that a Crown land bill was also forthcoming.

180.  The FCO described legislation on anti-corruption and Crown land in TCI as "important steps" which "should significantly improve both the capacity to deter and detect corruption as well as significantly reduce the scope for abuse." It explained that the anti-corruption Bill would establish an independent standing Integrity Commission, with "extensive" powers to investigate allegations of corruption, which should enable the UN Convention on Corruption and the OECD Bribery Convention to be extended to TCI. It also told us that the Crown land bill would include the creation of a "dedicated unit" within TCI's government and that it "should ensure transparent, accountable and fair procedures for managing all Crown Land issues which should address the primary problem of weak implementation of the agreed policy." [328]

181.  However, other witnesses did not express great confidence in the TCI government's anti-corruption measures. The Leader of the Opposition noted that the government had promised to introduce an anti-corruption bill within three months of coming into office, but had taken three years to do so.[329] Mr Gibbs told us that there was no publicly accessible register of applications for Crown land and no objective standard for their resolution. He also pointed out that TCI's register of interests was not publicly accessible, and excluded the Governor and Complaints Commissioner.[330] Mr Peter Williams recommended that ministers should be made to publicly state all the companies in which they had any ownership, possibly under oath.[331] Mr Gibbs also argued that the powers of the Complaints Commissioner had been "neutered to the point of being ineffective", because of the number of public officials exempt from its authority.[332] Ben Roberts agreed and suggested that the selection process had also reduced the post's potency.[333]

182.  During our visit to TCI we were also told that there was no prohibition on ministers having commercial business positions while in post and that texts of planning applications and environmental impact assessments were also not publicly available.

Role of Governor

183.  Many witnesses to our inquiry argued that as head of TCI's Cabinet the Governor was in a position to prevent alleged inappropriate grants of Belonger status and Crown land. They also told us that the Governor was failing to use powers available to him to investigate concerns. A minority of witnesses were of the view that the Governor must therefore be involved in alleged corruption. Many others assessed the Governor to have simply been too weak to stand up to pressure from the local administration. Others suggested that he had ignored concerns. The Leader of the Opposition told us that the Governor had "not paid particular interest to good governance" and might not have been "vigilant enough".[334] The Chairman of the Opposition asked:

How can the current Governor who is responsible for good governance continue to sit as chairman of Cabinet and have the confidence of her Majesty Government when he publicly said that he has not seen any evidence of these breaches?[335]

184.  During our visit to Turks and Caicos Islands we discussed his role in approving grants of Crown land and Belonger status with the Governor. He told us that it was constitutionally very difficult for him to intervene when all legal requirements under TCI law appeared to have been met. He also noted that he had only received two objections to applications to Belonger status during his time in post.

185.  With regard to investigation of specific allegations of corruption, the Governor told us that he had persuaded HMG to send two policemen to TCI to investigate a particular case, but that the police had found insufficient evidence for a prosecution. He stressed that he always investigated allegations when evidence was sent to him and that he had advised the opposition to give any evidence to the police.

186.  During our visit to the Cayman Islands we learnt that the Governor there had initiated a Commission of Inquiry to look at allegations of misuse of confidential government documents by the former Permanent Secretary without consulting Cabinet.[336] We therefore asked the Governor in the Turks and Caicos Islands if he had considered taking such action. He told us that he had not received sufficient evidence to warrant doing so and also told us that he would need the agreement of the TCI Cabinet to take forward such a Commission. However, in oral evidence, Susan Dickson, Legal Counsellor at the FCO, confirmed that the Turks and Caicos Islands had a Commission of Inquiry Ordinance which gave the Governor complete discretion to set up such a Commission.[337] She explained that while it would be usual for the Governor to consult the TCI Cabinet in advance he did not have to do so under the Ordinance and if he did so and his decision was blocked by Cabinet, the Cabinet could be overruled by the FCO.[338]

187.  During our visit we also spoke to the Governor and Attorney General about levels of security being provided for the Attorney General following the recent arson attacks. The Attorney General told us that he had requested additional security from the FCO, but had been told that he was not entitled to it since his appointment was local. We raised this with the then Director of the Overseas Directorate in the FCO who told us that the Governor had not reported the issue to him.[339] Meg Munn later provided the following clarification of events:

The Attorney General did not request assistance from the FCO with his security following the arson attack on his office in March. However, he did ask the Governor last year whether an assessment of the security of his office and house could be carried out. The Governor advised him that an effort would be made for that assessment to be done during one of the routine visits to TCI by an FCO Overseas Security Adviser. This was recommended to the FCO by the Governor's Office but they were informed by the FCO that the Adviser's remit was limited to reviewing security arrangements in place for FCO staff. Following the arson attack on his office, the Attorney called a meeting of senior Government Officials (including the police) during which a plan was developed which resulted in urgent and visible improvements in the security of government offices in general, including the newly re-located Attorney General's Chambers.[340]

Role of the UK Government

188.  Many submissions argued that the UK Government was failing the Turks and Caicos Islands, because of inaction over allegations of corruption. Ben Roberts told us:

For this deterioration in our society's sense of security and freedom of expression I fault past, and especially present, local governments, along with your British Government.[341]

Mr Gibbs highlighted the fact that the UK had implemented an Order in Council to decriminalise homosexuality (see para 254 below) and asked:

Why has the FCO and the Privy Council with similar vigour, not developed and recommended laws which would help to curb corruption and develop ordinances which would make it a crime to bribe a public official and likewise make it a crime for a public official to accept a bribe or kickback.[342]

Many witnesses called for the UK Government to use its powers to initiate a Commission of Inquiry (see para 186 above).[343]

189.  We asked Meg Munn for her view of the allegations we had received. She told us that she was "very concerned" to hear about the "level of worry". She said she took the allegations seriously and had had discussions with the UK Government about them, as well as raising issues concerning Crown land with the Premier of TCI. Like the Governor, the Minister also told us that police officers from the UK had visited the Turks and Caicos Islands but that there had been insufficient evidence to take the matter forward "despite reassurances about confidentiality and how such things happen". Meg Munn added:

I think that we need to look in more detail at the whole situation there. There are a number of legislative measures in progress to improve […] matters […]. We will need to continue to keep them in mind to see whether they deliver greater transparency and confidence in the systems.[344]

190.  We asked Meg Munn whether she would consider a Commission of Inquiry. The Minister told us that she "a completely open mind" about this, but added:

So far, there has not been sufficient evidence to proceed with one. Obviously, it is a serious matter to take forward a commission of inquiry, and we would want to do so on the basis of good evidence.[345]

In a follow-up letter, she added the following comments:

[…] it is vital that any action be based on substantive evidence. Party loyalties run deep in TCI and opinions about corruption on each side of the political divide are highly polarised. We continue to encourage anyone in the Turks and Caicos Islands who has evidence of corruption to bring it forwards. All allegations are looked into thoroughly, as appropriate, by the Governor's Office, by the Audit Department (whose reports are subsequently taken up by the Public Accounts Committee, which is chaired by the Leader of the Opposition) or by the police Financial Crime Unit, which is headed by a retired UK police officer. A number of allegations are currently the subject of on-going enquiries. But so far there has been insufficient evidence to justify either a prosecution or a Commission of Enquiry.[346]

191.  An even more serious option would be to suspend parts of the constitution as happened in 1986 when TCI's ministerial government was suspended by Order in Council following a Commission of Inquiry. Ben Roberts told us:

We do not wish that your government insert itself into the day to day affairs of T&C by taking such measures as suspending the Constitution for the sole purpose of hand-picking your people to oversee our Islands, as rumors are flying to the effect that such is your intention. This would be a backward step, and an indication that your Government and FCO is doing a poor job in overseeing the territory of Turks & Caicos. A serious Commission of Inquiry is in order. If the outcome of this calls for a caretaker government to be put in place our citizens need to be fully informed of it in town meetings and other fora.[347]

192.  Anthony Hall also warned:

But the FCO should be mindful that Premier Misick has made it patently clear that he intends to play the Mugabe card to undermine the Committee's findings of rampant corruption throughout his government, which he and most TCIslanders fully expect will be the case.[348]

193.  Some witnesses also questioned the level of support provided by the UK Government to TCI's Governor. In our oral evidence session the then Director of the Overseas Directorate claimed that he had not been informed by the Governor of difficulties in recruiting a replacement Chief Auditor.[349] However, in a follow-up note the FCO told us that the Governor had "been working since July 2007" to fill the post, including securing a salary uplift from the local government for the post, and that he had "kept the FCO in close touch with developments". (The note also informed us that the position of Chief Auditor had now been filled by an applicant with "long experience within the region."[350])

194.  During our visit, we learnt that the post of TCI Governor had been upgraded to the same level as Governor of the Cayman Islands (which is the second most senior Governorship).[351] The present Governor, Mr Richard Tauwhare, is due to be replaced in August 2008 by Mr Gordon Wetherell, who was previously High Commissioner to Ghana. The then Director of the Overseas Directorate told us that Mr Wetherell did not have Overseas Territories experience but that he did have "a range of other experience operating in small posts" and was "a very experienced character".[352] We have asked to meet Mr Wetherell before he takes up his post.

195.  When we asked Mr Turner why the post had been upgraded his response suggested that the FCO had been aware of the challenges of the post for some time:

[…] we had been considering upgrading it for quite a while. Partly as a result of more flexibility in the way we are allowed to move resources around within Foreign Office budgets, which came to my aid, we were able to upgrade that post, which seemed to us an important one, in which we could use even more fire power than we had already.[353]

We further consider the support and training provided to Governors in Chapter 6.

196.  We are very concerned by the serious allegations of corruption we have received from the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). They are already damaging TCI's reputation, and there are signs that they may soon begin to affect the Islands' tourism industry. There is also a great risk that they will damage the UK's own reputation for promoting good governance. Unlike the Cayman Islands, where the Governor has taken the initiative in investigations, the onus has been placed on local people to substantiate allegations in TCI. This approach is entirely inappropriate given the palpable climate of fear on TCI. In such an environment, people will be afraid to publicly come forward with evidence. We conclude that the UK Government must find a way to assure people that a formal process with safeguards is underway and therefore recommend that it announces a Commission of Inquiry, with full protection for witnesses. The change in Governor occurring in August presents an opportunity to restore trust and we recommend that the Commission of Inquiry should be announced before the new Governor takes up his post.

197.  On 20 May we held a private meeting with Meg Munn to express our concerns about the allegations we had received during the course of our inquiry.

Other Overseas Territories

198.  While the most serious allegations of corruption we received originated from the Turks and Caicos Islands, we were also sent submissions expressing concerns from Anguilla, Bermuda, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha. These concerns varied in gravity. We consider the issues raised in each in turn below, making individual recommendations about Anguilla and Bermuda and then considering how levels of accountability and transparency across Overseas Territories could be improved.


199.  Harry Wiggin told us that Anguilla's "birthright was in the process of being destroyed on the altar of short term gain", alleging that contrary to previously expressed policy a single developer had now been given permission for three large developments in the Territory. Mr Wiggin argued that this would have "serious social consequences" because of the enormous number of immigrant construction workers who would have to be employed to build the developments. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) also highlighted concerns raised by an Anguillan economist about the potential impact of over-development on society and the environment.[354]

200.  Mr Wiggin pointed us to allegations that had been made in a blog, removed after they became subject to a libel suit, that the three developments had been permitted because Anguillan ministers had accepted bribes from the developers. He urged the UK Government to strongly encourage the Anguillan government to initiate an independent inquiry, arguing:

My view that this is needed does not stem from any conviction that culpability is involved. But it does stem from a conviction that it is thoroughly unhealthy and corrosive that suspicions have been widely aroused and that those who are suspected apparently see no way to allay those suspicions. If, as I sincerely hope, they are innocent, then it should be seen as in their own best interests no less than the interests of Anguilla as a whole that an official independent enquiry should resolve the concerns which the explosive economic upsurge in development activity, and its adverse consequences, have engendered. The suspicions will certainly not be allayed by a libel claim […][355]

201.  Mr Wiggin also expressed concern about a general lack of "adequate controls in place designed to ensure good government" in Anguilla. In particular he raised

  • a lack of proper public consultation and information on government deliberations;
  • the fact that Anguilla does not have a Public Accounts Committee;
  • a lack of a law requiring legislators to declare assets;
  • the exemption of Ministers, MPs and Boards of Statutory Commissions from the Public Service Integrity Board;
  • the lack of a Boundaries Commission;
  • the lack of a Freedom of Information Act, whistleblower act and Ombudsman law;
  • the lack of discussion in House of Assembly before crown lands disposed of;
  • and the lack of a requirement for environmental impact assessments, and the failure to make them publicly available when they were carried out.[356]

He called for these deficiencies to be addressed within or at the same time as any new draft constitution (see para 18, Chapter 2) and argued that the failure to ensure such anti-corruption measures were introduced might leave the UK "with blood on its hands" if at some point in the future rule of law broke down as a result.[357]

202.  Mr Wiggin also expressed concerns that Governors of Anguilla had "been known to permit and endorse actions […] publicly known or recognised to be improper". In particular he claimed that Governors had not condemned members of government holding commercial positions, such as the Chief Minister's position as Chairman of a leading commercial bank in Anguilla.[358]

203.  We recommend that the Government should encourage the Anguillan government to establish an independent inquiry into allegations that Anguillan ministers accepted bribes from developers in the Territory. We also recommend that the Government should urge the Anguillan government to use the opportunity of constitutional review to introduce stronger anti-corruption measures in the Territory.


204.  We received evidence alleging government improprieties in Bermuda. Alan Gamble, an Assistant Project Director of an office and retail development in Hamilton, called for more accountability on public spending, arguing:

We can only guess at the level of debt in which this Government has placed us and […] In my view it is imperative that legislation is put in place immediately to restrict the unchecked spending which is taking place, some of which is clearly a use of public money to reward political activities. This may not be 'illegal' under current regulations but it certainly should be made that way.[359]

Another businessman, Antony Siese, an optometrist in Hamilton, alleged that contracts had been issued without tender to the "party faithful".[360] The Voters Rights' Association agreed, alleging that major construction contracts had been given to "personal friends" of the Premier.[361] Mr Siese also alleged that no action had been taken against members of Bermuda's governing party for breaking planning and other laws.[362]

205.  Mr Siese and the Voters' Rights Association also expressed concerns about the lack of transparency in respect to the issuing of three Special Development Orders.[363] The Voters' Rights Association told us that most projects approved by these Orders had been "to the detriment of Bermuda's environment and prospects for sustainability".[364]

206.  Bermuda's opposition referred to the Auditor General's reported concerns about the "growing culture of opportunity for dishonesty" within government. In particular, the opposition highlighted allegations of corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation.[365] The Bermuda police investigated corruption allegations at the Corporation in 2002. The investigation concluded with no criminal charges, with officials finding that the incident demonstrated "unethical, but not illegal" behaviour under Bermuda law.[366] In May 2007 confidential police investigation documents were leaked to a newspaper which showed that suspects had included key members of the governing party, including the Premier. This leak provoked an angry response from the Premier, who, according to the Daily Mail, accused the then Governor in a televised address of not doing enough to secure the police file and warned that Bermuda's government would "suspend further relations" with the Governor unless he got to the bottom of the leak.[367]

207.  The Auditor General, who is appointed by the Governor, had his office raided as part of the investigation into the leak and was also arrested for a day and questioned.[368] Many submissions to our inquiry expressed concern about his treatment.[369] Mr Gamble argued, "the treatment of the Auditor General has been disgraceful. To throw a public servant out of his office while he is off island and then arrest him for doing his job must be unprecedented in any democracy."[370] During our visit to Bermuda, the Governor told us that his predecessor had objected strongly to the Bermuda government at the time.

208.  The Premier and the Attorney General sought a Privy Council order that the media could not print further documents from the leaked police files, but the Privy Council ruled in favour of publication. Bill Zuill, the Editor of the Royal Gazette, which ran the initial story, told us in his evidence to our inquiry that the paper was running a freedom of information campaign in Bermuda. He argued:

While it may be logical to assume that access to information in small jurisdictions like Bermuda would be easier than it is in larger countries, the opposite is often true as those in positions of power will often guard information quite jealously. There are times when there are privacy issues at stake, but often in a small community this is used as a reason for not making information public, when in fact no harm would be done, or when the public interest outweighs rights to privacy.

Mr Zuill acknowledged that the Bermuda government had said it was working on a Public Access to Information Act, but called for this legislation to be given "a higher priority".[371] Mr Gamble also told us that there was a "catalogue of secret reports and enquiries which remain hidden".[372]

209.  During our visit in Bermuda, we were also told that the media were subject to intimidation by politicians. In March the Royal Gazette reported that its sport's editor had been criticised by members of both the opposition and governing parties in Bermuda for an opinion piece he had written on cricket, with a Bermuda Works Minister calling for the journalist to be deported.[373]

210.  Both the opposition and the Voters' Rights Association called for a Royal Commission into the allegations of corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation.[374] The Voters' Rights Association also called for a number of anti-corruption measures including:

  • the creation of an Ombudsman with power to investigate the activities of all members of government;
  • the removal of the Office of Attorney General from direct political influence;
  • reform of Bermuda's laws on corruption to mirror UK legislation and comply with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption;
  • enhancement of the powers and independence of the Auditor General;
  • legislation to ensure fiscal accountability by civil servants, the government, the Premier, the Cabinet and all parliamentarians;
  • the establishment of an independent committee or commission to oversee government purchases and contracts;
  • improvements in the Bermuda Police Service, including reducing perceived political influence; and
  • the introduction of "whistle blowers" legislation.[375]

211.  The opposition called for measures to increase transparency in Bermuda's House of Assembly too. It argued that it was "unacceptable" that committees of the House continued to sit in camera. It also argued that rules governing the asking of parliamentary questions were outdated - the requirement being that they are submitted 10 days in advance. The Speaker has also ruled that no Minister can be asked more than three questions on any sitting day. The opposition also highlighted the lack of a "written code governing the behaviour of Members of the House" and the lack of an "established independent mechanism for oversight and enforcement when it comes to disclosure of relevant interests and any conflicts that may arise as a result".[376]

212.  We also received allegations of irregularities in the electoral process in Bermuda. Sonia Grant, a candidate in the October 2006 mayoral by-election for the Corporation of Hamilton, alleged that companies' nominees on the electoral list were changed by the registering officer after threats from the returning officer.[377]

213.  The Voters Rights' Association highlighted an average inaccuracy of 8% in the electoral register in Bermuda's December 2007 general election, and also alleged fraud:

We understand that in one constituency that voter challenges were ignored contrary to the law. In this same district a large number of basically homeless people were moved into the constituency just weeks before the election and were not allowed visits by the Opposition Candidate.[378]

The Association called for an independent audit of voting "to determine the number of illegal voters in each constituency in which candidates won by small margins". It recommended that where the numbers of illegal voters exceeded the difference between the winner and loser of any constituency, the result should be voided and a new election held after the removal of illegal voters from the electoral register. It also recommended the following electoral reforms:

  • a Voters' Bill of Rights to be enshrined in Bermuda's Constitutional Order;
  • reforms to the Parliamentary Election Act, in particular to voters' registration;
  • the establishment of an independent Election Commission;
  • fixed parliamentary term elections;
  • introduction of absentee balloting; and
  • reform of broadcasting legislation to prevent the governing party gaining an unfair advantage in elections.

214.  We recommend that the Government sets out in its response to this Report the steps it has taken to ensure that allegations of corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation, in the issuing of contracts, and of electoral fraud in Bermuda are properly investigated. We also recommend that the Government should encourage the Bermuda government to strengthen its transparency measures, including by establishing an independent Electoral Commission and ending the practice of Committees of the House of Assembly sitting in camera.


215.  The Rock Firm (War Veterans) Group claimed that the media in Gibraltar was under the Chief Minister's "complete financial control".[379] We also received a submission from Clive Golt, Editor of The New People, newspaper of the opposition party, which claimed that the Chief Minister had banned him from press conferences, denied him access to government information and ensured funds spent on public advertising did not include his newspaper.[380]

216.  In response the Chief Minister told us:

We have not withdrawn advertising from any newspaper. [The New People] is not advertised in by the Gibraltar Government, and neither was it advertised in by the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party Government when they were in office, because even they recognised that it was a party news sheet.[381]


217.  Mr Rhys Williams, of Montserrat, told us all matters dealt with by the government of Montserrat were "shrouded in secrecy" and asked why the UK had not extended the Freedom of Information Act to the Overseas Territories.[382] He also suggested a lack of accountability in how budgetary aid (see paras 343 to 348 below) was being spent:

Why […] does DFID provide [the government of Montserrat] with Grant-in-Aid funds and then say "We have provided seventy percent of the island's running expenses, but we DO NOT ask how the money has been spent?" This is and would be a recipe for disaster in any company or concern but especially in countries where corruption is endemic.

He added:

Many decisions made by DFID have been proven to be incorrect. In some cases there have been large cost over runs, which should have been recoverable by the department concerned. Through poor legal judgement, the private contractor, has been able to walk away without repaying a penny! [383]

218.  James Skerrit, a UK citizen of Montserrat origin whose parents had returned to Montserrat to retire, expressed concerns about lack of transparency in planning in the Territory.[384]

St Helena

219.  We received a number of submissions from St Helena expressing concerns about governance. The Speaker of St Helena argued that there was "a need to strengthen democracy and trust" on the Island. He recommended that the FCO and DFID should help to establish an Ombudsman and a Scrutiny or Standards Committee on the Island, arguing that the former was "a must" if the good governance of the Island was "to be taken seriously".[385] St Helena's Citizenship Commission called for an inquiry to examine governance in St Helena.[386]

220.  There were two main areas of concern with regard to auditing arrangements: management of St Helena's shipping service (see paras 333 to 342, Chapter 4) and the contract for the Bulk Fuel Installation, St Helena's only fuel supply. On the former, the Speaker highlighted the fact that freight charges and passenger fares had increased despite an increase in the UK subsidy for the service. He questioned why shipping management accounts were not being audited by the St Helena Government (SHG) Auditor when the subsidy formed part of the Island's budget.[387] St Helena's Citizen Commission also questioned the lack of auditing, arguing "lack of transparency in this core sector of government administration raises public concerns and speculation".[388]

221.  The Speaker and Andrew Bell, director of a company formerly engaged for ship management, suggested that St Helena Line, which owns the ship on behalf of the Island, was appointed without tender,[389] although the Company Secretary of St Helena Line later wrote to us to explain that the company had been created at the request of HMG and SHG and that it would therefore have been "difficult to envisage a situation in which [it might have been…] required to bid for the very service for which it was established".[390]

222.  Mr Andrew Bell also claimed that the company presently engaged for ship management had had its contract extended without competition until St Helena's new airport (see paras 333 to 342, Chapter 4) was built, despite the expressed interest of the "largest ship management company in the world" in bidding. He alleged that the Governor of St Helena had been wrongly advised that "there was no one interested in quoting". He added that the National Audit Office had said they had no powers to audit or question this and described the contract as "truly a milch cow with its own ringed fence". Mr Bell also questioned the use of non-shipping specialists as consultants by DFID on behalf of SHG and claimed that their reports revealed "few strategic recommendations".[391]

223.  On St Helena's Bulk Fuel Installation, the Speaker argued that its contract had "never been advertised" and that there was a "conflict of interest" in SHG being "involved in a commercial Company and representing the people of the Island".[392]

224.  We also received concerns about a lack of transparency within St Helena's Executive Council. St Helena's Citizenship Commission expressed concerns about lack of public consultation on SHG's land disposal policy (see para 338, Chapter 4). It argued that "important policies for changes" were being driven by a government administration "disproportionately weighted with FCO/DFID appointees", and expressed particular concern about the membership of the Corporate Management Group (CMG). The Commission told us that the public had not yet seen any terms of reference for the CMG even though it appeared to prepare most of the papers for Executive Council, and argued that this led to "public distrust" and called into question "the whole democratic process and transparency of government". The Citizenship Commission also questioned why the post of Chief Secretary had not been substantively filled and why the Dutch government had been permitted to lay claim to a wreck in the Island's main harbour.[393]

225.  BioDiplomacy pointed out that the UK's Freedom of Information Act had been disapplied to St Helena. It argued that this was "against the wishes of many Saints" and that there was no sign of promised local legislation. It argued that freedom of information legislation was "particularly needed" because of the air access project (see paras 333 to 342, Chapter 4):

That will produce major changes on the island and for Saints elsewhere. Public engagement in key decisions would be greatly helped by improving the transparency and accountability with which the project is implemented.[394]

226.  St Helena's Chamber of Commerce argued that Legislative Council Members who were not SHG Members had been "effectively, disfranchised from the decision making process" because St Helena's various Committees consisted of two Executive Council (ExCo) Members (government) and two non-government Legislative Council Members with one of the ExCo Members having a casting vote. It also argued that most ExCo discussions were "unnecessarily held in secrecy and […] not open to the public" and that this simply promoted "the current distrust" of SHG.[395]

227.  However, we later received a submission from St Helena's Legislative Council which explained that there had been a positive development on this issue: ExCo had agreed to its Chairman making a broadcast summarising the Council's discussions following each meeting and to ExCo papers being distributed to all Councillors rather than just those on ExCo. The Legislative Council told us:

These moves appear to have been well received by the public, have helped to dispel allegations about unnecessary secrecy, and provided a broader base for discussion and advice both within and to Government.[396]

228.  St Helena's Chamber of Commerce also expressed concern that vacancies for appointments to various Boards on the Island were not being "openly advertised with the appropriate skills and experience of potential applicants being taken into account" and argued that it was currently "simply who the Governor wants to appoint". [397]

Tristan da Cunha

229.  The Chief Islander of Tristan da Cunha called for the Island Council "to see and be able to respond to all political correspondence between London and Tristan". He told us that previous administrations had "made premature decisions and sometimes given incorrect information to councillors and heads of departments" and that this had resulted in a declining economy and disillusioned workforce (see paras 354 to 360 below). He argued:

While the leaders of the community soon realised what was happening and made numerous requests for these trends to be reversed, the administrators seemed unable to be able to do so. I feel strongly that such situations could be avoided with open and transparent communication between Tristanians, the Administrator and London.

[…] we must achieve good governance and a stable economy to improve the morale, the ethics and the welfare of our community through open and transparent communication and between the FCO, the Tristan Government, the Administrator and the Chief Islander.[398]

FCO response

230.  In its evidence to our inquiry the FCO acknowledged that formal scrutiny in most Overseas Territories was "significantly less comprehensive or effective than in the UK". It described a number of key "limiting factors" including: small size of legislatures entailing that there were not enough members to staff committees; members of the governing parties not wanting to appear disloyal, creating difficulties with quorums and production of agreed reports; low expertise; lack of (public) Committees of Public Accounts; and little investigative journalism for fear of government retribution. The FCO told us that "the Governor and the public service in Overseas Territories therefore "had an important role to play" in public accountability. It also pointed out that one aspect of the principles of good governance agreed at the 2006 OTCC was that information should be freely available and directly accessible to those affected, including provision of the appropriate level of information to the public and media.[399]

231.  In its recent report, the UK Public Accounts Committee concluded that the FCO should "explore how Territories can better use the expertise available in the UK to support the development of their own capability, and whether more use could be made of ex-officio members in individual Public Accounts Committees.[400]

232.  BioDiplomacy suggested that the FCO might want to consider introducing or applying freedom of information legislation to all Overseas Territories, and gave the Cayman Islands as an example which might provide a "good model" for others.[401]

233.  We recommend that the FCO should strongly encourage all Overseas Territories which have not yet done so to introduce freedom of information legislation. We also recommend that the FCO should review with Overseas Territories what steps they might take to improve their public accounting and auditing capability. We support the Public Accounts Committee's recent recommendations that the FCO should explore how Overseas Territories might make better use of UK expertise and that it should also explore whether those Territories with Public Accounts Committees could make more use of ex-officio members.

Rule of law


234.  A critical part of good governance is an independent judiciary. All Overseas Territories have their own Chief Justice, except for: Anguilla, Monsterrat and the British Virgin Islands, which are under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the British Antarctic Territory, whose cases are heard by the Chief Justice of the Falkland Islands; and the Sovereign Base Areas of Cyprus, in which Senior Judges are appointed as required.[402] During the course of our inquiry we asked the FCO for details of the terms and conditions of judicial appointments in Overseas Territories in which UK ministers were involved.[403]

235.  Our interest was sparked by the suspension of the Chief Justice of Gibraltar, Hon Mr Justice Schofield. Four leading law firms had sent the Governor of Gibraltar a 25-page file of allegations about Mr Justice Schofield which demanded the Chief Justice's removal. In September 2007, the Governor decided to suspend the Chief Justice on full pay while appointing a Tribunal to advise on whether he should refer the question of whether to remove the Chief Justice to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the highest British court for Gibraltar.[404] It was claimed by some witnesses that this might have been a political move since the Mr Justice Schofield's suspension had followed a constitutional row in which he had argued that the new constitution (see para 16, Chapter 2), gave too much power to the executive.[405]

236.  One of Gibraltar's opposition's manifesto commitments in the October 2007 elections was to reinstate the Chief Justice as head of the judiciary and to reverse aspects of the Judicial Services Act, changing aspects of the constitution if necessary to do so.[406] The Leader of the Opposition told us that his party's concerns revolved around elected politicians having too much involvement in the administration of justice.[407] He also told us that he was concerned about the head of Gibraltar's judiciary being based outside the Rock and suggested that the constitutional changes might have been made to address issues of status.[408]

237.  We asked the Chief Minister of Gibraltar about the Chief Justice's suspension. Hon Peter Caruana told us that the Governor had acted fully in accordance with constitutional procedure (section 64) in his handling of the Chief Justice's case. He explained:

A tribunal, on which three eminent United Kingdom judges sit chaired by Lord Cullen, has to advise the Governor whether he should even refer the matter of the judge's possible removal to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. Only if the tribunal advises the Governor to refer the matter to Her Majesty the Queen through the Privy Council does the Governor do that. The Privy Council then makes the decision.

The Chief Minister also emphasised the government of Gibraltar's complete distance from the process.[409]

238.  We also asked the Minister for Europe about the case. He told us:

The established process is that this is not a decision for London; it is a decision for the Governor. Under the constitution, it is for the Gibraltar Judicial Services Commission to address these very points on whether to suspend the Chief Justice.

The Minister added that there was "a legitimate debate as to whether […] London should have a smaller or greater role", but that the UK Government had judged that it was appropriate for Gibraltar to have this additional power in its new constitution.[410]

239.  G E Harre, former Chief Justice of the Cayman Islands, highlighted the "great variety" of judicial appointment procedures in his evidence to our inquiry. He did not express a strong preference as to whether the UK or local government should have a greater role in appointments. However he did call for greater transparency in appointments, arguing that this was "particularly important in a small jurisdiction where suspicion of an outsider may exist" and that it might also "serve to assuage feelings of disappointment in any other member of a small bench who was also a candidate for the post".[411]

240.  The former Chief Justice also called for the terms and conditions of employment of judges in the Overseas Territories to fall under the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, as they do in England. He argued:

Interlocutors of the same professional background and sympathies as the judiciary and with the necessary influence elsewhere, are important safeguards against the development of the kind of confrontational situation which is an ever present danger where personalities clash in a small jurisdiction.[412]

He added that "judges should never feel that if they do not please the government their salaries may be at risk". He claimed that a change in executive had affected his own retirement package and that his benefits had also been "adversely affected" by his "lack of rapport" with the Governor who approved them.[413]

241.  We also received evidence which expressed concerns about the independence of the judiciary in Bermuda and in the Turks and Caicos Islands.[414] During our visit to Bermuda the Chief Justice highlighted the fact that appointments for his position were for five years at a time and suggested that this could make Chief Justices seeking contract renewal vulnerable to interference.

242.  We conclude that the FCO must ensure there are sufficient measures in place to prevent interference from either the Governor or the local government in judicial decisions in Overseas Territories. We recommend that the FCO should consider transferring the responsibility for Chief Justices' terms and conditions of employment to the Ministry of Justice. We also recommend that the FCO should consider whether judges in Overseas Territories would be less vulnerable to interference if they were on longer non-renewable contracts, with appropriate safeguards in case of incapacity, rather than on renewable short term contracts.


243.  In 2004 six Pitcairn men, one of whom was the Island's mayor, were found guilty of a series of sex charges, including rapes, sexual assaults and indecent assaults involving children. Their appeal to the Privy Council was dismissed in 2006.[415]

244.  Meg Munn told us that the government had acted "decisively" to investigate the allegations and ensure prosecutions took place.[416] We agree. We consider the impact of the prosecutions on the Island's economic situation in paras 349 to 353, Chapter 4.

Human rights

245.  The FCO told us that it had an objective to extend every key international human rights convention to all the inhabited Overseas Territories.[417] The European Convention on Human Rights has been extended to all populated Territories except Pitcairn (see para 23, Chapter 2 on proposals by the Commissioner to extend the ECHR to the Island).[418] However, a few core international human rights conventions have yet to be extended to some of the Overseas Territories (see table provided to us by the FCO at Ev 162). One witness also told us that the Overseas Territories were "woefully absent" on a new global convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and other Forms of Family Maintenance which gave "practical effect to the rights of the child."[419]

246.  The UK is responsible under international law for ensuring Overseas Territories meet their obligations arising from international human rights conventions which have been extended to them.[420] In this section we consider the FCO's general work with Territory governments on implementing human rights conventions. We then look at five specific issues on which we received evidence that human rights were being infringed: homosexual rights; conditions of migrant workers; rights of prisoners and illegal immigrants; rights of "non-Belongers"; and conscription.


247.  The FCO's evidence to our inquiry stated that, "Governors, where necessary, remind Overseas Territory Governments of the need to address any areas of human rights where deficiencies have been identified." It also pointed out that human rights had been on the agenda for discussion at recent OTCCs and that, together with DFID, it was funding a £1 million four-year programme to build human rights capacity in the Overseas Territories.[421]

248.  The FCO also told us that it was working with DFID on "particular areas of concern, including protection of children, to improve the situation where problems occur".[422] However, during our visit to the Cayman Islands we were informed that two aspects of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) had not yet been implemented in local law. We were told that Baroness Symons had been alerted to both this deficiency and to two offences which still carried the death penalty. It was claimed that she had acted very quickly on the latter but had failed to act on implementation of the CRC.

249.  The Equality Rights Group argued that the lack of periodic EC reporting by the UK on Gibraltar issues had led to a "blind spot" preventing EC institutions carrying out their supervisory role with regard to human rights obligations in Gibraltar.[423]

250.  The FCO explained that it was encouraging Overseas Territories to include "comprehensive fundamental (human) rights provisions" in their constitutions (see chapter 2 above for progress on modernising constitutions) and said that it had provided Territories with a model human rights chapter for this purpose.[424] It pointed out that the British Virgin Islands had introduced a human rights chapter for the first time in its new constitution, which gave people in the Territory the option to take a case to the local courts if they felt their rights were being violated.[425] In its submission to us, the government of Gibraltar highlighted that Gibraltar's new constitution contained chapters codifying human rights in Gibraltar, which brought them "right up to date" with the ECHR.[426] UKOTA also noted that the Turks and Caicos Islands had introduced such a chapter in its constitution.[427]

251.  The Leader of Government Business in the Cayman Islands told us that he "anticipated that a significant outcome" of the process of modernising the Islands' constitution (see para 19, Chapter 2) would be "the promulgation of a Bill of Rights for the Islands that will be compatible with the rights contained in the European Convention."[428] However, Meg Munn told us that there had been concern when she travelled to the Cayman Islands that signing up to a human rights chapter in its constitution would automatically mean it had to introduce civil partnerships (see discussion on homosexual rights below).[429]

252.  The FCO told us that the Cayman Islands Human Rights Committee had encouraged the Cayman Islands government to take human rights seriously, although when we met Members of the Committee ourselves during our visit to the Cayman Islands they did not seem aware of having influenced government policy.[430] Committee Members raised a number of issues with us, including prisoner rights, which we discuss later below.

253.  We also met the Chair-designate of the new Human Rights Commission in the Turks and Caicos Islands. She also told us that the Commission lacked teeth since it did not have investigative powers (see para 181 above for similar concerns raised about the Office of the Complaints Commissioner in TCI) and because its terms of reference excluded prisons. The Leader of the Opposition in TCI also told us that four of five appointees on the Commission were appointed by cabinet.[431]


254.  The FCO told us that "different cultural traditions" in the Overseas Territories had led to conflict between the FCO and the Territories in the past. One such issue was the decriminalisation of homosexual acts between consenting adults in private,[432] for which the UK ended up legislating by Order in Council in 2000.[433]

255.  We received a number of submissions to our inquiry expressing concern about homosexual rights in some Overseas Territories. Brenda Lana-Smith, a postoperative transsexual from Bermuda, claimed she had faced abuse. She told us that Bermuda's Human Rights Act failed to criminalise discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or presented gender status and also called for legislation to recognise a postoperative transsexual's presented gender.[434] Jonathan Suter, a Bermudian, and the Two Words and a Comma group also called for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation to be included in Bermuda's Human Rights Act.[435]

256.  In Gibraltar witnesses also expressed concern about the lack of protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, as well as the unequal age of consent (18 for gay men) and lack of legal recognition for same sex partners.[436] Peter Tatchell also told us that Gibraltar's Equal Opportunities Commission only covered race equality.[437] In oral evidence, the Leader of the Opposition in Gibraltar criticised the Chief Minister of Gibraltar's New Year message, arguing that it had implied that some areas of complaint with regard to homosexual rights "were an attempt to bring in extraneous standards from other places in Europe that are causing the breakdown of the family and society".[438]

257.  The Chief Minister told us that Gibraltar's implementation of the European Convention of Human Rights was "complete" and argued:

Unlike in the United Kingdom, where you have only been able to have recourse to the United Kingdom courts for alleged breaches of your rights under the ECHR since the Human Rights Act 1998 was introduced, citizens of Gibraltar have been able to have access to domestic courts in Gibraltar to allege breaches of human rights since 1969, or even 1964, because the constitution, which explicitly sets out those rights, coinciding with the European convention on human rights, is primary law in Gibraltar.[439]

On equalisation of the age of consent, he informed us:

[…] a European Court of Justice case states that it is a breach of the European convention on human rights not to have the same age of consent for gay and heterosexual sex unless an objective justification can be made for it. It […] therefore it seems probable that we will have to equalise our ages of consent. If that is the case, we will do so.[440]

258.  We asked the Chief Minister of Gibraltar whether Overseas Territories should be expected to meet UK/EU norms on homosexual rights. He replied:

[…] if you are asking whether I think that the Overseas Territories, as part of being part of the club, […] should be obliged to mimic UK domestic policy on things that fall below the radar and are not legal human rights, such as a particular Government of the United Kingdom choosing to allow same sex marriages, and whether it should be legitimate for the United Kingdom to say to its Overseas Territories that, as a condition of remaining Overseas Territories, they, too, must permit same sex marriages, when there is no human rights international legal obligation to do so, the answer to that question is, in my opinion, a very loud no. It would be completely intrusive and interfering to export UK culture to some physically remote places that have different cultures, such as the Caribbean and elsewhere.[441]

259.  When Meg Munn appeared before us, she confirmed that the UK had no plans to impose the introduction of civil partnerships in the Overseas Territories.[442]

260.  We recommend that the Government should take steps to ensure that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender status is made illegal in all Overseas Territories.


261.  Some witnesses to our inquiry also expressed concerns about the pay and living conditions of migrant workers in certain Overseas Territories. Mr Barrington Williams, told us that the Islands were "now home to modern day slavery", explaining:

[…] the expatiate communities such as the Chinese, Philippines, Mexican and other foreign nationals do not know the laws of this country, and are therefore taken advantage of. They are being paid way below the minimum wage of US$5.00 an hour and have signed illegitimate contracts in their own native countries that are not in accordance with the Labour Ordinance 2004 of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

He added that some migrant workers were even being paid on a commission basis, again contrary to Turks and Caicos law. Mr Williams also argued that workers were living in accommodation that was "not up to standard" and that some were having to pay for their own accommodation, when this was their employers' responsibility under TCI law. He added that the treatment of workers on TCI was currently being investigated by the International Labour Organisation.[443] Peter Tatchell drew our attention to the conditions in a government hostel for Moroccan workers in Gibraltar.[444]

262.  BioDiplomacy argued:

[…] more attention needs to be paid to the human rights of migrant labour in the UKOTs. The economies of several territories seem to be relying increasingly on construction projects. For low income tax economies, the duties paid on imported materials provide a welcome source of government revenue. […] However, when such development relies heavily on cheap imported labour there are also dangers of human rights abuses.[445]


263.  During our visit the Human Rights Committee in the Cayman Islands expressed concerns about the lack of mechanisms for independent review of parole decisions, the lack of a statutory framework for the Islands' Parole Board and the lack of parole possibilities for those on life sentences. The Committee also claimed that there was a mentally ill person in the Cayman Islands prison who had been detained for nine years without charge and without review.

264.  We also heard from the Committee that there was a lack of proper juvenile detention facilities on the Islands. The Committee highlighted a case of a girl under 18 who was being held with adult prisoners. The Governor told us that the local government had recognised the need for a juvenile facility and had plans to build a separate juvenile prison next to the adult prison. We also heard that the Turks and Caicos Islands currently sent its juvenile prisoners abroad, but was also building its own facility.

265.  Gordon Barlow, a former member of the Cayman Islands Human Rights Committee, sent us an article in which he claimed that the refusal of drinking water to Cuban migrants arriving on boats on the Islands' shores was a breach of the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.[446]

266.  Some of the evidence we received also identified poor conditions in prison and immigration detention facilities in some Overseas Territories. The Leader of the Opposition in the Turks and Caicos Islands told us that the police lock ups in Providenciales and Grand Turk were "unsanitary", and that the latter lacked proper ventilation. He also argued that the prison in Grand Turk was breaching the rights of remanded individuals by treated them as convicted criminals.[447]

267.  Having examined the detention facilities on the Turks and Caicos Islands during our visit there, we raised concerns about conditions with Meg Munn when she appeared before us. She told us that the FCO also had "some general concerns" and that a regionally based prisons adviser had recently visited TCI.[448]

268.  We recommend that the Government should closely monitor the conditions of prisoners, illegal immigrants and migrant workers in Overseas Territories to ensure rights are not being abused.


269.  As we have already seen in the Turks and Caicos Islands, a number of Overseas Territories have a special immigration status, not granted to all permanent residents, which confers rights usually associated with citizenship, including the right to vote.[449] In some of these Overseas Territories this is called becoming a "Belonger".[450] In others an equivalent status exists by another name.[451] For ease of reference we use "Belonger" throughout this section.

270.  We received many submissions about rights of non-Belongers. Of most concern was the lack of voting rights.[452] Jonathan Suter, who has Belonger status, described the fact that Permanent Resident Cardholders in Bermuda did not have the vote as an "absolute embarrassment" and called for the UK Government to advise Bermuda to extend the franchise.[453] He argued:

The current Government will argue that by giving PRC holders the right to vote, you would be opening the flood gates, […] and this would somehow disadvantage Bermudians. Firstly, given restrictions now in place on work permit lengths, it is unlikely that many individuals will have the slightest chance of staying in Bermuda for the requisite 20 years to obtain permanent residency. Secondly, PRC holders already have the right to live and work in Bermuda, therefore giving them the right to vote does not put any further pressure on the housing market or lend itself to any of the xenophobic rhetoric concerning foreigners 'taking away' jobs from Bermudians. Therefore, the only significant impact would be that PRC holders would have the opportunity to participate in the democratic process. The current Government would argue that this would somehow dilute the voting right of Bermudians. Yet, looking at the numbers, the number of PRC holders is about 5% of the voting population (2,000/42,000), which is just more than a fifth of the voting population who didn't participate in the past election of December 2007, (which roughly had a 76% participation rate). PRC holders should have the right to hold the government accountable. They are not simply guests on the islands; they have been contributing members of society for over 20 years![454]

271.  Julian Griffiths from Hamilton, Bermuda told us that the Territory's immigration laws were "racist" and discriminatory and questioned why the UK Government had permitted them to continue. As well as lack of voting rights, he pointed out that non-Belongers, some of whom had lived in Bermuda for over 20 or even 30 years, were also not given equal treatment under the tax system, or equal rights of property or business ownership. He added:

Worse, all these rights are denied to children born in Bermuda after August 1989 if their parents are not Bermudian even though they may have lived all their lives in Bermuda. By extension this situation could lead to stateless people in the next generation.[455]

Mr R David of Bermuda also highlighted the issue of lack of rights for children of non-Belongers in the Territory and argued that it effectively made some children "second class citizens in their own land of birth". He added:

Strangely this denial of basic human rights upon such individuals continues to be endorsed by the silence of the FCO on this matter.[456]

272.  Susan Parsons, a former Bermuda resident now living in Canada, explained the impact non-Belonger status had had on her family to us:

I am married to a Bermudian and have been for 10 years we have 2 children together born in Bermuda who hold full status. I had 3 children from my previous marriage when we met, born to a UK status father. We have had to leave Bermuda as when my children turn 21 they could not apply for status. This would have left my family in a situation where 3 children would be ripped away from their family and siblings and expected to start a life alone elsewhere. After having been brought up and schooled in Bermuda for over 10 years.

Is this not a constitutional breach of our rights as a family?[457]

273.  Many submissions from the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) argued that it was wrong that the majority resident population were being denied the right to vote.[458] Correy Forbes, a TCI Belonger, also pointed out that children born to Belonger fathers but non-Belonger mothers in the Turks and Caicos Islands could only gain Belonger status at 18 and argued:

These children are systematically denied passport and other common rights of other children born in this country. Some of these children's mothers are from countries that does not automatically render citizenship to persons born outside of its borders, thus, rendering these children stateless for at least the first eighteen years of their life.[459]

274.  However, during our visit to the Cayman Islands, the Leader of Government Business argued that the Islands' indigenous population would not agree to extending the franchise because it perceived the wider population as not being concerned about the long-term interests of the Islands. In the Turks and Caicos Islands, Belongers expressed fears of being swamped by illegal immigrants from Haiti (see paras 367 to 374, Chapter 4). The Speaker of St Helena also called for Belonger status to be reintroduced in St Helena to protect the rights of children born on St Helena against those who had acquired St Helena status by application after five years of residence.[460]

275.  We conclude that although extending voting rights to non-Belongers will be politically difficult for Overseas Territory governments, the Government should at least encourage local administrations to review this issue with regard to non-Belongers who have resided in an Overseas Territory for a reasonable period. We recommend that the Government should propose that non-Belongers' rights be an agenda item for the next OTCC.


276.  The Bermuda Regiment was established in the late 1890s so that Bermuda would have a local militia. When the British garrison withdrew in the 1950s, conscription was introduced. Most of the Regiment's work is ceremonial, although it is also on call for disaster or internal security emergencies and can be deployed overseas, as when it assisted the Cayman Islands with relief following Hurricane Ivan (see para 364, following Chapter). The Regiment is currently around 600 strong.

277.  Conscripts in the Regiment are selected by a random ballot of males between 18 and 33 and must serve for three years and two months. We received five submissions concerned about conscription. David R McCann, a selectee whose service has been deferred for medical reasons, described it as a "a 21st century form of slavery" adding:

[…] people who I know have gone through with it have described the abuse. Officers yelling, shouting and cursing, even threatening, and carrying out acts of physical violence.[461]

278.  Brian Swan from Bermuda argued that the law should cover everyone and not just a random selection of the population and told us that people had left the island for good just to avoid being conscripted. He also argued that teaching to kill should not be part of service.[462] Robert Masters of Bermuda agreed, asking what the purpose was of "teaching young men how to use a gun in peacetime". He called for the Bermuda Regiment to become a volunteer organisation, which encouraged both sexes to join.[463]

279.  Sergio Lottimore, a recent selectee, told us that his human rights were being violated through "forced labour, sexism and ageism". He also argued that the conscription scheme was what was "standing in the way of upgrading the Bermuda Regiment into a 21st century organization". He believed that the Bermuda Regiment did not currently carry out the right functions and argued that carrying out marine patrols and more civil crisis response services, and eliminating many of its "redundant" military components, would make it a more attractive organization to civilians.[464]

280.  Bermudians Against the Draft (BAD) argued that disproportionate numbers of black men were being conscripted. The organisation also claimed that abuse was taking place in the Regiment's training camps and called for a board of inquiry. During our visit it made a number of specific allegations, including that recruits had been forced to watch pornography. BAD also drew attention to very low rates of pay of conscripts and the fact that shackling and incarceration were being used as a penalty for objectors.[465] The organisation has also brought a legal challenge against the Regiment on the basis of gender discrimination, but the Bermuda Supreme Court judged that the ballot of young males only was not illegal.

281.  According to the National Audit Office, the Bermuda Regiment is under the Governor's overall control, although it is funded and managed by the Bermuda government.[466] However, when we asked the FCO about conscription it told us that responsibility for the Bermuda Regiment had been delegated to the government of Bermuda in 1989, and that recruitment policy was therefore a matter for the elected Ministers of Bermuda. It also argued that there were "no grounds" for the Governor to intervene in the 1965 Bermuda Defence Act which sets out the conditions of liability for military service.[467] In a written answer, the FCO has also pointed to cross-party support for conscription and a 2004 survey which showed it is favoured by a majority in Bermuda.[468]

282.  We also asked the FCO about the allegations of abuse we had received. It replied:

The Commanding Officer of the Regiment is satisfied that abuse does not occur, and has assured us that that any report of abuse would be investigated vigorously and, if substantiated, dealt with appropriately. The Regiment is subject to periodic, independent, assessment by an officer from the Defence Adviser's staff at the British Embassy in Washington. In September he will visit Bermuda again to closely observe the Regiment in action during a joint services exercise. The Assistant Defence Attaché from Washington visited the Regiment, during its annual training camp in Jamaica this month.[469]

283.  During our visit the Premier told us that the Bermuda government was proposing to introduce a broader concept of community service for both sexes, which might include the option of service in the Bermuda Regiment. The FCO also told us that Bermuda was considering how more male and female volunteers might be attracted to serve in the Regiment.[470]

284.  Bermuda's Premier also suggested that the Regiment might move into maritime duties. However, the Regiment's Commanding Officer told us significant infrastructure and staffing resources would be needed if the Regiment was to begin patrols. The FCO also pointed to the potential difficulties:

[…] attracting more fulltime staff to the Regiment will not be easy. It is increasingly difficult for the police and fire services to recruit and retain Bermudian staff while the thriving private sector can offer more attractive rewards. In attempting to recruit more staff the Regiment would be competing directly with the police and fire services. Already some 40% of police officers in Bermuda are recruited from overseas.[471]

285.  We recommend that the Government should encourage the Bermuda government to move away from conscription and towards the Bermuda Regiment becoming a more professional organisation, with voluntary and paid elements. We conclude that this could make serving in the Regiment more attractive, giving it the staffing resources required to extend into maritime duties.

Environmental governance

286.  The Overseas Territories are rich in biodiversity. Pitcairn, for example, supports more world endangered species than its human population.[472] One of the proposals in the 1999 White Paper was that Environment Charters should be negotiated between the Government, Overseas Territory governments, the private sector, NGOs and local communities to clarify the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in environmental management.[473] By 2003 Environment Charters had been signed with most Territories.

287.  In 1999, a new £3 million Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP), a joint programme of DFID and the FCO, was designed to support the implementation of Environment Charters, and environmental management more generally, in the UK Overseas Territories. This was then extended with an annual budget of £1,000,000, FCO and DFID each providing £500,000. It is a ringfenced commitment from the Global Opportunities Fund.

288.  In 2007 the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) produced two Reports which commented on environmental governance in the Overseas Territories. In its Report on the UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, published in January 2007, the EAC expressed concern about the continued threat of extinction of around 240 species in the Overseas Territories and argued that it was "distasteful" that the FCO and DFID had said that the Territories should fund protection of these species from their own resources.[474] The EAC urged the Government to increase funding for conservation and ecosystem management in the Overseas Territories and to give DEFRA joint responsibility with the FCO for delivering this.[475]

289.  The EAC returned to the issue in its Report on Development and the Environment: the Role of the FCO. The Report argued that the current funding situation appeared to be based on what the FCO and DFID could spare, rather than a strategic assessment of need, and reiterated its previous call for increased funding.[476] It recommended that DEFRA should be involved at the highest level in reviewing the Environmental Charters.[477]

290.  We received evidence from a number of environmental organisations which told us that they strongly supported the EAC's conclusions.[478] The RSPB argued that many Overseas Territories lacked capacity and resources to carry out effective environmental governance, but that the FCO was nevertheless "abdicating responsibility" to them. It argued that annual funding of £16 million was needed and warned that if increased funding was not found endemic species would "certainly" become extinct and ecosystems "continue to deteriorate".[479]

291.  The Overseas Territories Conservation Forum told us that despite their particular vulnerability to the loss of biodiversity, the Overseas Territories lagged behind the UK in terms of environmental protection. It argued that this was due to a number of causes, including low political status, confusion over responsibilities, "muddled" departmental responsibility and "confusion" over the role of Governors.[480]

292.  The Joint Nature Conservation Committee highlighted that there had been 39 recorded extinctions in the Overseas Territories and called for better co-ordination of environmental initiatives both in the UK and between Overseas Territory governments, including for the Departmental Ministerial Group for Biodiversity to "meet regularly and provide strong leadership and support for the Overseas Territory governments".[481] BioDiplomacy alleged that Whitehall officials from all the different Departments with responsibility for Overseas Territories appeared to be playing:

"the classic "Yes, Minister" game of pass-the-parcel: each player's aim being not to be left holding the can of worms labelled "overseas territories" when the music stops. [482]

293.  When we were in the Cayman Islands, members of the Cabinet showed us an 80-foot waste mountain, the highest point on Cayman. They called for UK technical assistance with waste management. We asked Meg Munn whether the Government would be willing to provide this. She replied:

Certainly in relation to issues of technical assistance, one of the things that I have been keen to do is to look to other Departments where that might be appropriate. So, there is no problem about us seeking to identify some technical support for that.[483]

294.  However, when we asked the FCO whether it had any proposals to increase funding of the Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP). It told us that it had "no plans" to do so. The FCO repeated the statement, criticised by the EAC, that "responsibility for environmental issues has been devolved to the individual Territories". As well as the OTEP, it also highlighted insignificant sums provided to Overseas Territories via DEFRA-funded programmes, which did not come anywhere near the RSPB's assessment of required funding. The FCO also told us:

DEFRA is the Whitehall lead on environmental issues. As Meg Munn said in her oral evidence session to the Committee on 26 March, there is scope for greater engagement in Overseas Territory issues by other Whitehall Departments, including by DEFRA.[484]

295.  We agree with the Environmental Audit Committee that the Government does not appear to have carried out any kind of strategic assessment of Overseas Territories' funding requirements for conservation and ecosystem management. We conclude that given the vulnerability of Overseas Territories' species and ecosystems, this lack of action by the Government is highly negligent. The environmental funding currently being provided by the UK to the Overseas Territories appears grossly inadequate and we recommend that it should be increased. While DEFRA is the lead Whitehall department responsible for environmental issues, the FCO cannot abdicate responsibility for setting levels of funding given its knowledge of Overseas Territories' capacity and resources. The FCO must work with other government departments to press for a proper assessment of current needs and the level of the current funding gap and then ensure increased funding by the Government through DEFRA, DFID or other government departments is targeted appropriately.

270 Back

271   Ev 144 Back

272   Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Managing risk in the Overseas Territories, HC (2007-08) 4, p 58 Back

273   See paras 269 to 275 below for discussion of rights of "non-Belongers" in Overseas Territories. Back

274   Ev 241 Back

275   Ev 168 Back

276   Ev 326 Back

277   Ev 342 Back

278   Ev 326 Back

279   Ev 168 Back

280   Ev 326 Back

281   Due to limited resources and expertise on TCI, many patients presently have to be sent overseas for care. Back

282   It also drew our attention to a systems audit by TCI's Audit Office which reported that the Housing department did not make any checks to ensure that discounts received by developers as part of the programme were passed on to homeowners. Back

283   Ev 326 Back

284   Ev 238 Back

285   Ev 326 Back

286   Ev 326 Back

287   Ev 241 Back

288   Ev 326 Back

289   Ev 326 Back

290   Ev 84 Back

291   Ev 323 Back

292   Ev 259 Back

293   Ev 112 Back

294   "Best and Worst Islands Rated", National Geographic News, November/December 2007; available at Back

295   We consider concerns raised in TCI and other Territories about the rights of those without Belonger or equivalent status later in this Chapter (see paras 269 to 275). Back

296 Back

297   Turks and Caicos Islands Immigration Ordinance 1998, section 3 Back

298   Ev 326 Back

299   Ev 326 Back

300   Ev 323 Back

301   Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Managing risk in the Overseas Territories, HC (2007-08) 4, p 58 Back

302   Ev 326 Back

303   "Opposition walks out of Turks and Caicos budget debate", Caribbean Net News, 24 April 2008 Back

304   Ev 326 Back

305   Ev 241 Back

306   Ev 326 Back

307   Ev 342 Back

308   Ev 129 Back

309   The Turks and Caicos Sun misquoted Susan Dixon, Legal Counsellor at the FCO, as having told us that "the Governor does not have the authority to call a Commission of Inquiry without consulting the Cabinet or the Premier", when she in fact told us that he did have such discretion. See "No Commission of Inquiry", Turks and Caicos Sun, 1 April 2008 and Q 284 [Ms Dixon]. Back

310   Ev 326; The "500 letter writers of the PDM" mentioned in the advert are a reference to comments made by the Premier at the meeting of the governing party in which he suggested that all the evidence to our inquiry from TCI came from the opposition. Back

311   Ev 326 Back

312   Ev 321 Back

313   Ev 326 Back

314   Ev 241 Back

315   Ev 129 Back

316   Ev 326 Back

317   Since it does not have its own higher education facilities, TCI pays grants to enable students to study overseas. Back

318   Ev 342 Back

319   Ev 239 Back

320   Ev 243 Back

321   Ev 143 Back

322   Q 86 Back

323   Ev 351 Back

324   Ev 351 Back

325   Qq 86-87 Back

326   Qq 88-93 Back

327   Ev 351 Back

328   Ev 357 Back

329   Ev 326 Back

330   Ev 168 Back

331   Ev 238 Back

332   Ev 168 Back

333   Ev 129 Back

334   Ev 326 Back

335   Ev 342 Back

336   Ev 362 Back

337   Q 284 Back

338   Qq 285-288 Back

339   Q 280 Back

340   Ev 357 Back

341   Ev 129 Back

342   Ev 168 Back

343   Ev 326 Back

344   Q 282 Back

345   Q 283 Back

346   Ev 357 Back

347   Ev 129 Back

348   Ev 93 Back

349   Q 280 Back

350   Ev 357 Back

351   The first is Bermuda. Back

352   Q 275 Back

353   Q 278 Back

354   Ev 112 Back

355   Ev 274 Back

356   Ev 274 Back

357   Ev 274 Back

358   Ev 274 Back

359   Ev 266 Back

360   Ev 292 Back

361   Ev 280 Back

362   Ev 292 Back

363   Ev 280 and 292 Back

364   Ev 280 Back

365   Ev 270 Back

366   "Scotland Yard brought in as Bermuda swerves away from crisis", Daily Mail, 8 June 2007 Back

367   Ibid. Back

368   Qq 326-327 Back

369   Ev 292 Back

370   Ev 266 Back

371   Ev 270 Back

372   Ev 266 Back

373   "One step from totalitarianism", The Royal Gazette, 18 March 2008 Back

374   Ev 270 and 280 Back

375   Ev 280 Back

376   Ev 270 Back

377   Ev 162 Back

378   Ev 280 Back

379   Ev 249 Back

380   Ev 247 Back

381   Q 243 Back

382   Ev 255 Back

383   Ev 255 Back

384   Ev 246 Back

385   Ev 97 Back

386   Ev 102 Back

387   Ev 97 Back

388   Ev 102 Back

389   Ev 97 and 180 Back

390   Ev 260 Back

391   Ev 180 Back

392   Ev 97 Back

393   Ev 102 Back

394   Ev 171 Back

395   Ev 164 Back

396   Ev 252 Back

397   Ev 164 Back

398   Ev 224 Back

399   Ev 144 Back

400   Public Accounts Committee, Seventeenth Report of Session 2007-08, Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Managing Risk in the Overseas Territories, HC 176, p 6 Back

401   Ev 171 Back

402   HC Deb, 5 March 2008, col 2565W Back

403   As the FCO pointed out to us, constitutionally Her Majesty and the Secretary of State are acting in right of the Territory concerned, and not on behalf of the United Kingdom Government. Back

404   The Tribunal is set to open its substantive hearing on 7 July 2008.  Back

405   For example, Ev 296. Back

406   "A slap in the face for justice from judicial commission", Vox, 31 August 2007 Back

407   Ev 296 Back

408   Q 198 Back

409   Qq 227-228 Back

410   Q 253 Back

411   Ev 184 Back

412   Ev 184 Back

413   Ev 260 Back

414   Ev 280 and 326 Back

415 Back

416   Q 296 Back

417   Ev 144 Back

418   Ev 144 Back

419   Ev 263 Back

420   Ev 144 Back

421   Ev 144; the programme began in July 2007 and is managed by the Commonwealth Foundation. Back

422   Ev 144 Back

423   Ev 81 Back

424   Ev 144 Back

425   Ev 144 Back

426   Ev 296 Back

427   Ev 88 Back

428   Ev 186 Back

429   Q 264 Back

430   Ev 144 Back

431   Ev 326 Back

432   The other main such issue was the abolition of the death penalty on which the UK legislated by Order in Council for the Overseas Territories in 1991. Back

433   Ev 144 Back

434   Ev 251 Back

435   Ev 242 and 349 Back

436   Ev 81, 165 and 264 Back

437   Ev 165 Back

438   Q 206 Back

439   Q 243 Back

440   Q 243 Back

441   Q 243 Back

442   Q 265 Back

443   Ev 143 Back

444   Ev 81, 165, and 264 Back

445   Ev 171 Back

446   "Everybody's Business: Not worth water", Caymanian Net News, 9 May 2008 Back

447   Ev 326 Back

448   Q 289 Back

449   Gibraltar is an noteworthy exception, since anyone from the UK is entitled to live in Gibraltar, to be entered on its electoral register and to stand for elections, after six months, provided they intend to stay permanently. Q 201 [Hon Joe Bossano] Back

450   Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Back

451   The Cayman Islands and Bermuda. Back

452   Ev 162 Back

453   Ev 258 Back

454   Ev 258 Back

455   Ev 347 Back

456   Ev 322 Back

457   Ev 263 Back

458   According to statistics provided by the TCI government to the FCO the resident population figures for 2006 were 11,750 Belongers and 21,452 non-Belongers. HC Deb, 22 October 2007, col 54 W Back

459   Ev 71 Back

460   Ev 97 Back

461   Ev 77 Back

462   Ev 79 Back

463   Ev 248 Back

464   Ev 68 Back

465   Ev 232 Back

466   Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Managing risk in the Overseas Territories, HC (2007-08) 4, p 44  Back

467   Ev 357 Back

468   HC Deb, 17 January 2007, col 1209W Back

469   Ev 357 Back

470   Ev 357 Back

471   Ev 357 Back

472   Ev 112 Back

473   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Partnership for Peace and Prosperity: Britain and the Overseas Territories, March 1999, Cm 4264, para 8.15 Back

474   Environmental Audit Committee, First Report of Session 2006-07, UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, HC 77, 3 January 2007, para 133 Back

475   Ibid., para 140  Back

476   Environmental Audit Committee, Fifth Report of Session 2006-07, Trade, Development and the Environment: the Role of the FCO, HC 289, 23 May 2007, paras 76 and 78 Back

477   Ev 112 Back

478   Ev 112, 139 and 171 Back

479   Ev 112 Back

480   Ev 135 Back

481   Ev 135 Back

482   Ev 171 Back

483   Q 334 Back

484   Ev 363 Back

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