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Sophie Cameron

Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

Committee launches inquiry on UK overseas territories

Committee launches inquiry on UK overseas territories


The constitutional arrangements and relationships will be assessed

The House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee launched an inquiry on 20 April on the status of the UK’s overseas territories, in particular the constitutional arrangements and whether the relationship between the UK and the overseas territories is fit for purpose.

The inquiry will focus on the UK’s 14 overseas territories, ten of which are self-governing with the UK responsible for their defence and foreign relations. During the first stage of the inquiry, the Committee is seeking written evidence until 4 September 2023 on how the UK Parliament and the Civil Service engages with the overseas territories and across different government departments; how their interests are represented in UK Parliament; and how the rights of British overseas citizens are protected.

The Committee press release highlights in particular the renewed focus on the interaction between the overseas territories and the UK Parliament and government during the passage of the Sanctions and Money Laundering Act 2018, when it was decided that the rare step would be taken to extend the Act to cover their jurisdictions.  

Interested parties are encouraged to respond to any of the following questions: are the UK’s current constitutional arrangements as regards the overseas territories satisfactory and appropriate in the 21st century; what is the UK government’s relationship with the overseas territories; what is the UK Parliament’s relationship with the overseas territories; how is legislation made in the overseas territories and what role does the UK government and UK Parliament have in these processes; are effective mechanisms in place for the interests of the overseas territories to be represented internationally; and are the rights and interests of British overseas citizens effectively protected by the current constitutional arrangements?

William Wragg MP, Chair of Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said: “The UK Overseas Territories are an important part of the UK family. With ten territories permanently inhabited by British nationals and all fourteen represented at the international level by the UK, we cannot deny their unique constitutional position. Each territory has its own legislative processes and bespoke relationship with the UK, but with no official representation in UK Parliament, these constitutional arrangements are often misunderstood or overlooked. We recognise that there is no ‘one size fits all’ framework for relations between the UK and the Overseas Territories, but by better understanding how existing arrangements operate in practice, we can better assess whether they are satisfactory and appropriate in the 21st century.”