Commons and Overseas Territories Speakers’ Conference 2022 Communiqué
6 May 2022
- From the 4-6 May 2022 we gathered as Speakers from Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, the UK House of Commons and a representative from Gibraltar for the first ever Speaker-led conference.
- We reaffirmed the central role played by legislatures in democratic life, our commitment to the principles of democracy in our legislatures, the sacredness of democracy and the need for partnership to sustain it. As our legislatures bring together all components of society, they are the cornerstones of democratic governance; they represent the wills and expressions of the people through scrutiny and democratic process.
- Strong legislatures are the bedrock of democracy and essential for the development and prosperity of our citizens. They represent the people, pass laws and hold governments to account. Strong legislatures are built on the foundation of:
- Independence from the executive
- Access to independent legal advice
- A physical, separate, accessible building
- Control over their secure precincts
- Independent permanent recruitment and management of staff
- Control over own budgets
- To support development in the Overseas Territories we ask the UK Government to provide ring-fenced parliamentary funding to ensure each Overseas Territory legislature has a dedicated building in which to carry out its activities and duties; this would ensure such funding is not postponed or cancelled in the face of competing priorities. It is essential that funding is also provided to support any reviews considering constitutional reform.
- To ensure the voices of the Overseas Territories are heard on issues that impact them but are decided by the UK Parliament, the UK House of Commons will explore opportunities for direct scrutiny by Territories within the committee mechanism.
- We call for the UK Government to provide impact assessments from any bill laid before Parliament that will affect the Overseas Territories.
- To help facilitate parliamentary representation of the Overseas Territories at the UK Parliament, the UK House of Commons will explore providing facilities to support this aim if the territories wish to pursue this avenue.
- We ask that the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association works to increase the visibility of the Territories through the creation of an annual day which recognises and promotes the value of the Territories collectively and to explore options for a flag for the OTs.
Developing our legislatures
- Well-structured and resourced legislatures are essential to a vibrant democracy. The Overseas Territories have a strong desire to develop our capacities, both as representatives and of the staff who support us to ensure we perform our legislative, budgetary oversight and representative roles to the most effective of standards.
- We welcome and encourage the sharing of best practice as well the functional co-operation between our legislatures as well placement opportunities at the UK Parliament.
- Investment in training and development of our representatives and officials is essential for the successful growth of our distinct political, procedural and administrative organisations.
- The Overseas Territories are custodians of internationally important habitats, which span the globe from the Antarctic to the Caribbean, the South Atlantic to the Pacific and the Indian Oceans with different geographical challenges.
- Our legislatures, with their core procedural, budgetary oversight and representation functions, are key to ensuring the implementation of the climate change objectives.
- We recognise that the Overseas Territories have multiple levels of vulnerability including economic constraints and challenges of infrastructure which mean the impacts of the climate emergency can result in huge environmental disasters and economic impacts.
- There needs to be a long-term strategic approach by the UK Government for the climate emergency and a commitment to provide dedicated, transparent funding to replace funding for environmental purposes lost since the UK’s departure from the European Union.
- We welcome the focus on biodiversity and the climate emergency by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee. We recognise the impact the Committee and other House of Commons Committees play in amplifying the concerns of the Overseas Territories on these issues. We welcome the opportunity to provide evidence to these bodies.
- We welcomed the opportunity to come together as Commons and Overseas Territories Speakers and the opportunity this afforded us to have frank and open discussions on areas of mutual interest.
- We reiterated our shared belief that the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, as enshrined in the UN Charter, applies to the peoples of the Overseas Territories.
- We are committed to working together to create a unique and modern partnership to strengthen parliamentary democracy. By working together there is much we can achieve.
 Particularly in the case of Montserrat, Anguilla and Saint Helena.