‘Island Should Be Represented In UK’

January 13, 2012

British Parliamentarian Andrew Rosindell this week called for Bermuda and the UK’s other remaining Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to be represented in London’s House of Commons.

In a submission to the UK Parliament’s Backbench Business Committee on Tuesday [Jan.10], Mr. Rosindell — who visited Bermuda last year — said Britain was out of step with other countries in terms of granting their dependencies direct political representation [the British MP is pictured here with Stanley Taylor, coordinator of Bermuda's Philatelic Bureau, during a visit to the General Post Office in Hamilton].

Mr. Rosindell  chairs the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on the British Overseas Territories.

The Backbench Business Committee meets weekly to hear representations from MPs for House of Commons debates in backbench time.

“The United Kingdom — our Government, our Parliament — ultimately governs 21 territories around the world, but those territories have no voice in this Parliament, they elect no representatives and have no representation, unlike former colonies and territories of other countries, such as Australia, Denmark, France and the Netherlands, which have external territories committees to which representatives are elected,” Mr. Rosindell told the committee.

“We give our 21 territories nothing. All they have is an informal all-party group, of which I am proud to be chairman. We have a democratic hole, with hundreds of thousands of people for whom we make laws, whom we ultimately govern and on whose behalf we can declare war, make foreign policy and sign international treaties. We have substantial control over their domestic affairs. Those territories that have sterling are bound by much of our own economic policy. In a range of areas, although the Crown dependencies and Overseas Territories are not part of the UK they are substantially influenced and ultimately governed by this Parliament, so it is wrong for them to have no voice at all.”

Conservative backbencher Mr. Rossindell said the UK’s 14 Overseas Territories — which include Bermuda, the Falkland Islands and the Turks & Caicos Islands — and seven Crown Dependencies — such as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man — had effectively been rendered voiceless in London.

“There should be a debate on a whole load of issues relating to our Territories and Dependencies,” he said. “I am very relaxed about when that debate is. It does not need to be immediately. There is no imperative that it should be held this month or next month, but I hope it will be held at some point this year. It is an appropriate year, the year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, where we can talk about our territories and dependencies. Also, it is the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands.

“Perhaps it is an appropriate time to establish the principle that at the very least the UK Parliament gives recognition to our Territories and Dependencies, and that we actually want to debate subjects that affect them, so that is why I have put in for this debate.

“I have been an MP for 11 years and I do not think there has been an actual debate on territories and dependencies, except when the British Overseas Territories Bill was introduced by the previous Government in 2001-02. There needs to be a similar kind of annual debate such as we have on Scotland and Wales. Our 21 territories deserve to be given that kind of recognition, and I hope the Committee will give that due consideration.”

Mr. Rosindell came under fire from former Minister of National Security Lt. Col. David Burch for comments he made following his visit here, including his desire to see Britain’s Union Jack flying alongside the Bermuda flag.

The British MP later hit back,  saying he was a “friend of Bermuda” and describing the then “Minister’s aggressive outburst” as “unfortunate.”

Lt. Col. David Burch had described Mr. Rosindell’s remarks about Bermuda as “disrespectful”, “out of order” and “a breach of every solitary protocol that exists across the planet.”

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Comments (15)

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  1. ooops... says:

    I nominate LaVerne

    • WTF says:

      Well – it would have to be a nomination. God know she cant get the votes if it is an elected position.

      • LaVerne Furbert says:

        If I was elected, I would have to get the votes. When was the last time you were eleccted to a position?

  2. Wondering says:

    I was just going to ask – who would they send…let’s cross out LaVerne, Colonel Burch, Rolf., Minister Burgess

  3. Please send Lt Col Burch to London says:

    Dear Madam Premier.

    Please send Lt Col. David Burch to London during his press roll out he said he’d do anything to serve the people, please send him so that he can spend his time in SOHO and not wreck your backbench with negative behaviour or lead a challenge against you

    please send the Col to London

  4. James says:

    Assuming Mr. Rosindell’s idea takes flight:

    Number of electors per constituency (650 total) in the UK varies between 65,000 and 88,000 with most having around 72,000, i.e Bermuda would likely get one seat.

    To have any influence at all, this MP would likely have to align with one of the major UK parties – Tory, Labour, etc. And the reality is that with only one MP, the views of the roughly 47 or 48% of folks who likely will have cast their ballot for another candidate will not be represented at all.

    In short, representation inthe UK House of Commons is not an advantageous platform for Bermuda – we can get a lot more traction being on the outside pissing in than on the inside pissing out. Status Quo should prevail.

    • Chart says:

      Actually we are much better at pissing off.

    • JS Zuill says:

      How about each OT being allotted two seats, one from the governing party and one from the opposition, selected by general elections. (Or just require that each OT political party may have ONE candidate on the ballot and the top 2 candidates win.) The OT reps should have voting rights but not on tax and spending bills unless the tax or spending directly involves the OT’s. They also would not vote in up or down confidence votes.

      The OT reps could then form caucus groups and make their views known in legislative committees, etc. Not being part of mainline UK political parties could be a plus in that OT reps could be included in legislative committees, etc. regardless of which UK party is in power. In effect they would be like independent party UK MP’s and could be selected to chair committees or subcommittees.

      Obviously OT’s couldn’t control or dictate anything to UK just as they can’t do so now but the OT’s would be part of the governing process and able to continuously advise their home territories on matters of importance or impact. This would be much more substantive than any of the “pissing in, out or off” comments would suggest and would be a reasonable way of ending the existing total disenfranchisement.

      There would have to be a financial arrangement to deal with the expense of staff, housing, travel, etc. for which it would be fair that OT’s pay some share of the expenses. Perhaps OT’s could pay the MP salaries and travel and UK would pay for staffing, housing and legislative expenses under existing MP arrangements.

  5. 1750's demands addressed? says:

    Some 250+ years after American independence, one of the causes of which was the lack of “fair representation of the colonies” (no taxation without representation) in London, we now have an MP suggest it. About time! Granted, one voice (and Bermuda will probably only get 1 MP) may not carry much weigh in voting in the Commons. However, the Bermuda voice will be able to steer committees and conversations in the corridors. If Bermuda does not choose independence (as this will no doubt bring that conversation to a head), then this has some benefits to the island.

  6. Baltic Fury says:

    Attention seeking junior backbencher floats idea that has nil chance of getting anywhere. End of.

  7. Heather Stines-Brangman says:

    Ref: Bermuda has no representation in the UK. BerNews Jan 14th, 2012
    I thought that Bermuda had representation and consideration in the UK as a Colony? I assumed that we were included as part of Britain as we could have British passports and the right to live to England.
    So we are saddled with the likes of our current ruling political party, at the mercy of politicians of the ilk of Col Burch. How this aggressive, obnoxious individual has remained in a position of power is unfathomable. His manner of speech is detrimental to our island and sends a message to our youth that it is acceptable to be rude and offensive. My opinion is that he is not worthy of the position that he holds. This man appears to be a bully and should be retired from politics. It is time for major changes on many levels.
    The current ruling political party has yet to come clean regarding as to how Bermuda became the owner and responsibility of a $3 BILLION plus debt in less than 10 years. What happened to the transparency, documentation and required honesty in the actions, decisions and best intentions that the PLP party had promised to Bermudians? Cronyism has wreaked havoc on the way we are living and changed how we interact with each other in business and daily life.
    Well, the “Party” is over! Look where we are now, with a rising, monumental debt that doesn’t seem to have benefitted our island or our residents. Our former Premier Brown seems to have made out quite well during his reign. Gee, thanks for the Fast Ferries. I hope you enjoy your mansion in Turks and Caicos. When our next election is called, please don’t waste your vote by not using it.
    I ask that you keep this in mind.
    When voting, you can give your vote to a representative of a party because you believe that this individual can make a positive contribution in politics and or our society, therefore indicating that the voter would have their trust, believing that they would have consideration of our residents and island. Good!
    On the other side, you can vote for the political party that you have regularly favored and supported because of a history of membership or because of their belief that that party would be the best for Bermuda. Better!
    An individual candidate will be active and contribute their time, efforts and utilize their resources in a positive way that will benefit Bermuda and would be accessible and involved in the community. Good!
    A political party would utilize the entire “Machine” in terms of access to information, staffing, research on all levels, contributions for funding and input to assist in decision making with the best intentions for Bermuda at their highest performance to benefit every aspect of our guiding our country through good and bad times. Better!
    No matter what, we must put our best foot forward and come together without prejudice for the common good of all.
    I suggest that our Government Leaders voluntarily accept a 50 percent cut in pay to be used towards a fund that will benefit the unemployed, homeless, elderly, those without access to medical treatment and a food bank. Casemates residents can work off their time/fines in maintaining roads, walls, government buildings, ports… there’s lots to do. We must change to survive.
    Respectfully submitted,
    Heather Stines Brangman

  8. Legal Eagle says:

    Heather–Congrats–your post is comprehensive,well thought out and spoken!! Your point about the Premier/Cabinet calling on all to sacrifice and cut back while refusing to do so themselves– is well taken and certainly shows the priority of their own self interests over those of BDA+the Bermudian people. While I appreciate that our Premier is spending much of her time trying to impose damage control after Brown, the two-faced call for sacrifice speaks volumes–is ill conceived–and will undoubtedly cost her party votes in the next election–asit should!!