Early sight of the introduction to a consultative white paper about the future of Britain's relations with its overseas territories, suggests that the Foreign Office (FCO), and the Foreign Secretary William Hague in particular, want to have a closer hands-on relationship with the governments of the former colonies, now officially known as the overseas territories.
The introduction to the document (which should be published within weeks, but may be changed as it continues to be revised) was seen by the Cayman News Service, which wrote about it on its website It quotes William Hague saying: “The UK will provide support to the territories, where necessary, to develop good governance, robust public financial management and sound economic planning. In particular we will support greater exchange of expertise between public servants in the territories and the UK.”
It is thought that the issue of good governance and strong oversight by the FCO is important to London, which has faced major embarrassment at reports of financial mismanagement and corruption in some Caribbean territories, particularly the Turks and Caicos. A new hands-on relationship might enable British civil servants from various departments to be seconded to work in all of the territories - not just those in the Caribbean - and for local civil servants to be temporarily posted to London.
A commentator for the St Helena Online news website said, There is no suggestion that the agency report is inaccurate, and indeed, the information reported so far fits with what politicians have already said in public. The Cayman News Services says the White Paper wants people in the territories to have 'the same high standards of governance as in the UK'. That means the same human rights, rule of law and integrity in public life.
The decision to build an airport on St Helena – the single biggest project on the books of the Department for International Development – is seen as a sign of the coalition government’s wish to have a stronger relationship with the overseas territories.”
Graham Bound, London