The flags of the overseas territories fly in Parliament Square in London. (Photo: FCDO/Flickr)

On April 20, the United Kingdom Parliament announced for the second time in five years that one of its committees will review certain aspects of the UK’s relationship with the overseas territories. But once again, the Parliament has not scheduled consultations or otherwise publicly sought input here in the Virgin Islands.

The Parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee is welcoming submissions up until 5 p.m. on Sept. 4 on its website and asking people to answer six questions (see sidebar).

“The constitutional arrangements of the UK’s overseas territories, and whether the relationship is satisfactory and appropriate in the 21st Century, is the main focus of the PACAC’s new inquiry,” according to an April 20 press release.

No announcement here

Though the call was published on the UK Parliament website on April 20, it has not been announced separately in the VI.

However, House of Commons Committees’ Media and Communications Officer Hennie Ward told the Beacon that anyone can submit evidence.

“The committee then reviews these submissions and publishes them on its website,” she wrote the Beacon on Friday. “The committee will then hold a series of public oral evidence sessions with witnesses who have expertise in the subject area.”

Oral evidence

Ms. Ward added that she expects oral evidence sessions to begin shortly after the submission deadline on Sept. 4.

“Committee inquiries typically conclude with the agreement of the conclusions and recommendations, based on the evidence gathered, in a published report,” she wrote. “The report is generally produced [within] a couple of months following the oral evidence sessions. The government then has 60 days to respond to the report.”

Ms. Ward said the inquiry launched on April 20, the same day her office issued the press release.

The release also included information about the background of the review.

“The interaction between the overseas territories and the UK Parliament and government was brought to attention during the passage of the [Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018], where the unusual step was taken to extend the act to cover their jurisdictions,” the release stated.

“The committee is seeking evidence 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 release also quoted PACAC Chair William Wragg, a member of Parliament.

“The [UKOTs] are an important part of the UK family,” Mr. Wragg said. “With ten territories permanently inhabited by British nationals and all 14 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.”

Mr. Wragg added that Parliament recognises that there is no “one-size-fits-all” framework for relations between the UK and its OTs, but he said the survey will help Parliament better assess whether existing arrangements are satisfactory and appropriate in the 21st Century.

VI Governor’s Office Policy Officer David Humphreys told the Beacon that the Governor’s Office has not yet announced the call for evidence — which he noted is being run by the UK Parliament and not the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office — but he added that he has contacted the FCDO for guidance on the matter.

Previous review

The PACAC is not the first UK parliamentary committee to conduct a review of the OTs without holding consultations in the VI.

Starting in 2018, the Foreign Affairs Committee carried out a seven-month inquiry into the 14 OTs, which was the first of its kind in 11 years.

At the time, then-Premier Dr. Orlando Smith and then-Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie solicited community feedback by hosting meetings across the territory.

The PAC’s 2019 report, which focused on the UK’s governance of its overseas territories, stated that belongership systems like the one in the VI are “wrong” and advised that their “discriminatory elements” should be phased out.

The report also recommended the legalisation of same-sex marriage across all OTs and the acceleration of the publication of beneficial ownership registers.


Those three recommendations drew strong pushback from elected leaders in the VI and other OTs.


The United Kingdom Parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee is asking for input on the UK’s constitutional relationships with its overseas territories. Below are the questions it is asking. To weight in, go to

1. Are the UK’s current constitutional arrangements as regards the overseas territories satisfactory and appropriate in the 21st Century?

2. What is the UK government’s relationship with the overseas territories, including:
a. Does the UK civil service engage effectively with the overseas territories?
b. Are overseas territories appropriately considered within different departments across Whitehall?

3. What is the UK Parliament’s relationship with the overseas territories, including:
a. Does the legislative process in the UK currently operate effectively in relation to overseas territories, both in theory and in practice?
b. Are the interests of the overseas territories effectively represented within the UK Parliament?

4. How is legislation made in the overseas territories and what role does the UK government and UK Parliament have in these processes?

5. Are effective mechanisms in place for the interests of the overseas territories to be represented internationally?

6. Are the rights and interests of British overseas citizens effectively protected by the current constitutional arrangements?