My Honourable Friend, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) has made the following written Ministerial Statement:
On Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 November, I chaired the sixth meeting of the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council in London. The Council was attended by elected leaders and representatives from Anguilla, Ascension Island, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St Helena, the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Tristan da Cunha and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The key themes discussed at this year’s Council included post-hurricane reconstruction and recovery in the Overseas Territories; environment and climate change; the implications for the Overseas Territories of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union; developing tangible change for the Overseas Territories and their citizens; anti-corruption, beneficial ownership and tax transparency; governance, human rights and child safeguarding; and health. Ministerial colleagues from the Departments for International Development, Exiting the European Union, Health, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Her Majesty’s Treasury attended the discussions. Territory leaders also met the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development. I held bilateral meetings with Territory leaders. The Minister of State for Europe and the Americas (The Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan MP) met Members of the Falklands Islands Legislative Assembly.
The Council agreed a communiqué which identified priorities and set out a number of important commitments and areas for joint work in the year ahead. On the important subject of disaster recovery, the UK reiterated its commitment to work in partnership with the Governments of the Territories affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. We welcomed the additional £15m of UK support for early recovery in addition to the £62m investment in relief so far; and the Prime Minister’s announcement on 28 November of a further £70m in grants and up to £300m of loan guarantees to support long-term reconstruction in the worst- affected Territories. We discussed the private sector’s important role in driving economic recovery, and the need for the Overseas Territories to have disaster preparedness policies in place that are fit for purpose.
We continued our dialogue on the implications for the Overseas Territories of Brexit, and reiterated our objective to achieve a deal in the negotiations that works for all parts of the UK family. We will seek to ensure the security and economic sustainability of the Overseas Territories is preserved and, where possible, strengthened post Brexit. We welcomed the progress made by those Overseas Territories with financial centres to implement the bilateral arrangements for law enforcement exchange of beneficial ownership information, and committed to review the effectiveness of the first six months of their operation. We also welcomed the Overseas Territories’ cooperation in international efforts to promote tax transparency and tackle financial crime, as well as their constructive engagement with the EU Code of Conduct Group and the Global Forum for Asset Recovery. We reiterated our commitment to show leadership in tackling corruption.
The communiqué reflects the commitment of the Governments of the Overseas Territories and the UK to continue to work in partnership to achieve the vision set out in the June 2012 White Paper: The Overseas Territories: Security, Success and Sustainability.
In line with our commitment in the White Paper, we will continue to report to Parliament on progress by Government departments in implementing the commitments in the communiqué.
A copy of the communiqué has been published on the GOV.UK website.
I have arranged for the communiqué to be placed in the House Library.