Monday, 6 December 2010

Up for Air - Why Don't We Integrate Overseas Territories?

So, with a small one-evening break built into my work-schedule before Thursday, I've been drawn to venture a blog post by this piece of news. For those disinclined to read the whole thing, it basically describes the governmental woes of the Turks and Caicos Islands, one of Britain's remaining Overseas Territories, and the hands-off approach being taken by the Westminster government (both pre- and post-election) in dealing with the crisis.

The position of overseas territories has long puzzled me. Like Mr Rosindell, the Conservative MP who raised the issue in the house, I believe that "The people of the Turks and Caicos are British too". But is this the position of the British government?

Contrast our approach with that of France. With the honourable exception of the Falklands War (and the less-honourable exception of the flotation of the Governorship of Bermuda during the vote on 48 day detention), Britain tends to hold her Overseas Territories at arms length and try to forget about them. On the other hand, France integrates her Overseas Regions. Places such as RĂ©union and French Guiana are fully integrated into the French Republic. A more direct parallel with the British Overseas Territories would be French Polynesia, a territory that has a local government with a broad remit yet still returns two deputies to the National Assembly and a Senator.

If the case for full integration is too extreme, what about adopting some measure of it into the reform of the upper house? If the House of Lords is reformed into an elected body, then give the Overseas Territories representation within it. This measure will not only reaffirm our links with the Overseas Territories, but will also allow their quarter-million inhabitants some say in the government that is responsible for significant areas of policies within those territories (such as defence).


  1. I agree with you on the principle. Just wonder if the potential honourable members for Pitcairn will be allowed out of prison to vote in the Commons----

    Not only the French, but the Dutch and the Danish also give representation to their remaining overseas territories. Although these countries give a measure of self-government to these territories

  2. Our Overseas Territories have a measure of self-government too, the Dutch and Danish demonstrate that there is no contradiction there. :)

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