MP Brown: ‘Passport Matter Has Big Implications’

September 22, 2013

passport map generic immigrationThe Opposition said they support Minister Michael Fahy and the OBA in finding a way to halt or delay the removal of Bermuda Passport printing from on island, with MP Walton Brown saying power has been taken away from the Overseas Territories and the matter has “big implications.”

Citing a new passport design with improved security measures, the UK Government plans to transfer the printing of British Overseas Territory Citizen passports to the UK, effective December 2014.

Affected territories include: Anguilla, Ascension Islands, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Falklands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha, and Turks & Caicos Islands.

Presently, if Bermudians need to travel for an emergency they can get a passport in one day, and with the planned change that will no longer be possible.

Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy pointed out that Bermudians sometimes travel abroad for emergency medical care, which can happen at short notice, and said that moving passport printing to the UK will “result in serious implications for Bermuda” as it relates to emergency medical travel.

The Minister said the Government plans to “assume a leadership role” to find solution for Bermuda and the other Territories, which ideally means retaining the ability to print Bermuda passports on the island.

Shadow Home Affairs Minister Walter Roban said the PLP “supports Minister Fahy and the OBA in finding a way to halt or delay the removal of Bermuda Passport printing from on island. This a long standing issue and as the Government, the PLP was exploring alternative options with the UK government.

“We made the case then that this move was unnecessary and represents a diminishment of Bermudian autonomy. Furthermore, it will create challenges for Bermudians traveling for medical emergencies or other unplanned occurrences. This does not benefit Bermudians.

“The PLP will assist our government in any way we can to ensure that Bermudians are neither hindered or inconvenienced by this move and that Bermudian autonomy is not diminished further,” said Mr Roban.

Opposition MP Walton Brown spoke about the matter in the House of Assembly on Friday [Sept 20], saying there has been a process in which power has been taken away from the Overseas Territories, and this passport matter may seem small, but it has “big implications.”

Mr Brown said, “The old comment that was made about Britain when the empire was vast and expansive. It used to be said the sun never set on British soil..or the British Empire… British soil. And the Irish responded by saying, ‘Because God doesn’t trust them in the dark.’

“And so, I say that Mr. Speaker because to have a relationship with the United Kingdom without any oversight will be deeply problematic for us. You will see, as we have seen, since 1999, this process by which power has been taken away from the Overseas Territories.

“And so this passport matter may seem relatively small. It has big implications. It has big implications. I would encourage the government to look at it in its full context. It is not a minute issue,” continued Mr Brown.

“And when our Honourable Premier goes to the UK in December for the Joint Ministerial Conference, you will have the UK bringing forward issues that have nothing to do with their constitutional powers. And I would encourage the Premier to push back. Because you either have a constitution that you respect or you don’t have a valid constitution.

“Once the UK move on the passports, they’ll be able to go back to the UN and say ‘You know what? Everybody in Bermuda, everybody in Cayman, everybody in Turks and Caicos has said they want to be British.’ They all hold British passports. So the issue of decolonization no longer arises.

Excerpt of Walton Brown’s speech in the House of Assembly:

Mr Brown continued, “And so, again, this is not a political partisan issue, this is an issue of national importance. This is an issue that transcends the sort of peculiarities of political party positions. And I really hope that the Premier can demonstrate sincerity on this issue and that they’ll have a collaborative, collective approach.

“Because we are talking about our long term interests. This government belongs to no party. This government belongs to no individual. So let us look at this issue, at the very minimum, Mr. Speaker, with the degree of seriousness that it involves. We have powers that allow us within our internal issues. But there are times when our external concerns become very, very important.

“But I can assure you, Mr. Speaker when the UK start talking about contingent liability, as they have applied to Cayman and other territories, we need to be concerned about that,” said Mr Brown.

“And we cannot have our economic interests hamstrung by primarily, civil servants, because the UK politicians don’t give much regard to the Overseas Territories. Only when there is an embarrassing situation, like the Uighurs for example. But by and large this issue is driven by civil servants.

“I would encourage the Premier, I would encourage the Finance Minister to look at the issues that we need to address as we move forward and address the issue of our relationship with the United Kingdom. They have taken power away and they continue to. And some of you may tire of me raising this issue, but I raise it, because I care about my country,” said Mr Brown.

Read More About

Category: All, News, Politics

Comments (23)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. somuchless says:

    Did I read right. The opposition is in support of something Michael Fahy is doing?????????

    If so I think the world is coming to an end, quick do everything you’ve always wanted to do lol

    • JAWS says:

      The UK is trying to generate extra revenue off passports and nothing more. Look at the list of territories included.

      Talk about rob Peter to pay Paul.

      • somuchless says:

        I was not speaking of that. I was mentioning how the Pee l pee is actually in agreement with the oba on something. That’s the point I was making

      • frank says:

        you said it right just like the good old days of robing the territories

    • @ somuchless, Why don’t you grow the hell up and stop being such a wiener. The situation at hand is going to effect all of us, unless you are someone who is not Bermudian and can access your passport through another jurisdiction without hassle.

      The situation at hand is somewhat of a very serious issue and does not need to be taken lightly, so I could care less if a donkey was in charge of government and a stubborn mule was the opposition, the situation needs to be dealt with and fought hard on behalf of our Bermudian people.

      So donkey or Mule it has to be dealt with

  2. Except for emergency purposes this does not seem to have any serious implications for the average Bermudian. Hopefully something can be worked out as it is literally a matter of life and death.

    Perhaps in these types of situations travel could be allowed using some other form of identification. After all it is an emergency situation and for humantarian reasons some alternative should be pursued with all due diligence.

    That said Walton as usual is looking for an opportunity to push the pro-independence agenda. ( And I’m for independence just don’t like his style.)

  3. Nuffin but da Truth says:

    If everyone kept a close check on their passports and the expiry dates there would be no problem.

    • Portia says:

      I agree. No matter what country you live in, the Immigration authorities always tell you to check your passport/ travel documents to ensure they will not expire any time soon – say, within six months. It’s the responsible thing to do. Too many people only think about passports when they’re about to take a vacation – but your passport is just as important as your driver’s license or TCD registration (even more so.)

      I do feel that Walton is his Independence agenda – as he usually does. Bermudians receive too many benefits from the UK to be quibbling over something like this.

      • Whistling Frog says:

        So if one doesn’t keep their passport up to date, they are not being responsible? Don’t make me laugh… I know some folks who’ve never travelled in their lives, but you’re saying they should have an up to date passport?

        • Portia says:

          A passport is one of the most important documents you own, this is becoming increasingly the case these days, so yes, we have a responsibility to keep it updated.

          Passports are not only used for travel. They are an accepted form of identification for banking, voting, etc. They can be used in place of a driver’s license to do these trasactions if a person loses their license or doesn’t have one.

          And just because a person hasn’t travelled all their lives, why would they assume they WON’T need to travel in the future? As people age and the risks of heart attack, cancer, etc rises, they must realize that those illnesses cannot be treated here. So travel may become necessary for them, which is why a current passport is a sensible thing to keep.

    • Frank'N'Onions says:

      I agree – what needs to happen is if the UK takes over the printing of passports for Bermuda and the other overseas territories, then they should leave in place a way to create temporary passports / travel documents that can be issued in under 24 hours for genuine emergencies. There are lots of people locally who don’t have an up to date passport (or a passport at all).

      Personally I would think that anyone living in this post 9/11 world would keep an eagle eye on the expiry date of their passport and apply for replacements with plenty of time to spare rather than rush at the last minute. I know what year and what month my passport expires and barring emergency travel know when to apply for a replacement. Anyone who doesn’t shouldn’t cry to mommy if they didn’t plan ahead.

      Is the UK being the “bad overlord”? I more think that the OTs will find it expensive and difficult to produce passports if they are required to step up the security measures and keep up with 1st world standards. I can’t say but maybe it will also make the OT passports a bit more trustworthy when it comes to international travel as well?

      As a process, Bermuda immigration should still receive the applications and forward them to the UK without any extra charge to the applicant though. If the applicant wants a rush passport they should also be able to pay a premium and get the application put on the top of the pile and returned by courier within a prescribed turn-around time.

  4. Guess Who says:

    Pay attention. What next, taxes from the UK on an already a taxed society. You can not travel without a passport, you could be dying they do not care. NO EXCEPTIONS! Its a security issue. Not sure where you living. Also, many people who do not travel do not renew their passports as many people who live here in Bermuda really cannot afford to renew their passports. So if someone has to tell you it is not a priorty, yes until they become ill.
    This is not politics its survival. It does not matter who speaks, its a matter of if it benefits BERMUDA.

  5. Chaos Theory says:

    The sky is falling, the sky is falling. Quick, we need to go independent, it will solve all our problems. [sarcasm tag]

    It is an inconvenience, I agree, and hopefully a sensible solution can be found, but Walton Brown really does go off the deep end some times.

  6. MAKE MY DAY says:

    The UK Gov’t obviously have their reasons for this move – probably from a security viewpoint!!

    BDA is still a Brit Colony so they must abide by the “rules”!!!

  7. Hmmm says:

    Walton wants independence, Bermuda does not. PLP spent a chunk of change on producing a report which proved there is no good reason for it. Why therefore does Walton want it ?

  8. Who that cap fit says:

    Premier Cannonier’s talk of self determination is chasing investment out of Bermuda!

  9. Soooooooo says:

    They all hold British passports. So the issue of decolonization no longer arises

    Walton, we all have those sme passports now…so tell us, other than looking for something to rant about,what is the issue?

  10. Yes I said it!! says:

    This is just a back door discussion for the ole independence issue. You can try adding sugar to sour milk but it’ll still taste sour!!!! Keep your personal agendas to yourself!!

  11. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    PASSPORTS…………….. this is one very frustrating exercise.

    Wait till you get the bill, seniors included no “free be” this time , you will be looking at Currency taxes and exchange, along with Passport fees $236.74 plus UPS charges $56.17 *

    * Oh ! Grannie you will need a law degree,credit card , a computer and printer to down load the paperwork,a professional to sign for you, the Photographs are extra.

  12. inspired one says:

    It can be a fustrating issue if one has to deal with that yea.Being a Virgin Islander and a British Citizen has it’s advantages yea with some perks…..As for Bermuda,Caymans,etc…….Belongers or Permanent Resident Cards can be a solution……I re enter our ports with only a UK passport since 02….no questions asked…….the ppl that were naturalised or belonger card holders from the UK mainland,US and elsewhere show their cards……..would be easier with that same system in all the other OTs as well……
    As far as an emergency document,they should provide those at the governor’s or immigration office…..

    In my oppinion though and this is just a take: I still don’t understand the British system…I’ve lived in the North East,South West of England but and soon in Germany but can’t in another OT…..the laws should be for those from foriegn countries….. People from all the OTs should be allowered to visit other OTs for Medical,Work,College,Sports or Leisure and Business….Some of the best talents you’ll find in another Overseas Territory…….We can all benefit from one another if freedom of movement was on place like it is between the territories and the UK mainland…….We in the Br. Virgin Islands know the USVI very well and they can move to anywhere within the US territories or the 50 States……Just saying there are more benefits than losses if that free movement system was in places within all the British Overseas Territories…….