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Foreign Secretary wants hands-on relationship with Overseas Territories

Monday, June 25th 2012 - 20:17 UTC
Full article 40 comments
William Hague wants to ensure good governance and robust public financial management William Hague wants to ensure good governance and robust public financial management

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

Categories: Politics, International.

Top Comments

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  • Conqueror

    But that needs to be “light” hands-on. The overseas territories belong to the people that live there. Britain's role must be no more than to guide and advise. Final decisions MUST be made by the occupants of the territories.

    Jun 25th, 2012 - 08:50 pm 0
  • JohnN

    The devil will be in the details of the FCO white paper, but doesn't seem unreasonable to work solidly to build capacity for governance in the OCTs. Just throwing money at a problem, without ensuring the capacity for good management and fiscal rectitude, is a recipe for corruption. “Hands-on” might imply a somewhat heavy FCO involvement and direction, but need not be so and must not be so. Aim should be achieving balance of self-determination that is bespoke for each OCTs, while maintaining a coordinated core of principles across all OCTs.

    Jun 25th, 2012 - 08:53 pm 0
  • Marcos Alejandro

    “Foreign Secretary William Hague in particular, want to have a closer “hands-on” relationship with the governments of the former colonies”
    It means more London control, well we knew that they are English colonies in the 21 st century after all.

    Jun 25th, 2012 - 09:37 pm 0
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