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Comments

Yet Another Anon

There are some differences in that they don't pay UK taxes, if they are given representation in the House of Commons then logically British citizens should be given some more say over how those territories are run or requiring contributions towards various UK activities in those areas - it would also require greater devolution within the UK. After all they do have far more autonomy than even Scotland from the UK parliament, maybe they could be given seats in the House of Lords.

Splitting the world into areas and giving ex-pats who are eligible to vote in UK Elections seperate seats in the House of Commons rather than them voting in UK seats would be a better idea, there would have to be a Boundary Commission for the rest of the World.

Gildas

Yes - in fact I submitted a similar proposal so I'm greatly amused to see I'm not the only imperial confederationist!

One thing I would argue for in doing this: mainland residents must have the right to settle in the overseas territories. That is the necessary quid pro quo here.

The Channel Islands and Isle of Man should not be included in this however. They are not subject to the UK parliament, except in the most general sense that the UK parliament provides HM with a government. The 'colonies' on the other hand are creations of the UK.

aristeides

I am afraid I just wouldn't bother. They are hardly clamouring for it anyway.

Anyway, what constituency could possibly be constituted by St Helena and anywhere else at the same time? It would bring a whole new dimension to constituency travel expenses!

The results can also be pretty odd. The French do this and no one has ever been able to tell me how come 10% of French Guyana voted for Jean Marie Le Pen.

TomTip

Since all these territories elect their own representative governments with wide ranging powers (with the exception of foreign and defence policy, as you say), WHATS THE POINT? I don't think they are asking for it anyway.

MrB

I'm unsure about the need for this policy. However, our overseas territories certainly need far more attention than they're getting.

Most of them need serious investment and development in possible economic opportunities (increasingly tourism)so that they are not just "Dependent" territories but valuable assets of the UK. An example would be the current prospect of finding a large oil field in the Falklands.

Personally, I would love there to be easier ways to visit many of these islands as they are truly places of outstanding beauty, with friendly people and rich histories.

Angelo Basu

This might have been an interesting idea prior to the agreement to hand back Hong Kong (a way of entrenching democracy there) but seems pretty pointless.

Regarding expat Brits, I'd be more inclined to remove their voting powers after a certain period rather than extend them. If we are concerned about Scots and Welsh MPs voting over English affairs we should be even more concerned about the large number of people who have decided that they'd rather live in France or Spain having a say over how things are done in the old country!

Denis Cooper

I'm more concerned about people who are not British citizens being allowed to vote in our local elections. Of course I have in mind especially the eastern Europeans who could now make up maybe 10% or even 20% of the voters in local elections in Reading - it's impossible to be precise, because the precise numbers aren't known, and they may not all register let alone vote - rather than the odd person from elsewhere in the world. It seems that the Labour Party in Reading is now actively courting the eastern Europeans, mainly Poles, when they should not be allowed to vote at all unless they become British citizens.

On the original proposal, I think Yet Another Anon is right to point out that if, say, Gibraltar elected a member of the UK Parliament then the UK Parliament might reasonably expect that it could make the decisions on how Gibraltar was run. Unless the Gibraltarians want to throw in their lot entirely with the UK, and want to be treated as a part of the UK like the Isle of Wight (except smaller and more distant), then they're probably better off not having a representative in Parliament.

Johners

Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury) tabled a 10 minute bill on this very issue during the last parliament. Is this new policy?

Grinning Gordon

Why on earth would Jersey want representation in the UK parliament? Jersey is not in the EU, doesn't have VAT, and has huge tax allowances and low taxes.

David Breaker might as well argue for Sweden or Iraq to have representation in the UK parliament.

This is a waste of time.

Alison Anne Smith

If these places don't pay taxes to the UK I don't think they should be represented in Parliament. Mind you I bet they'd be popular seats for the "A" listers !

DavidTBreaker

Our overseas territories do have a high degree of autonomy, but so does Scotland and - when functioning - Northern Ireland. We have uneven devolution and I see no reason why they shouldn't be granted Westminster representation on the same terms. If you do not like the thought of them voting on English issues, your argument surely is for English votes on English laws. The overseas territories could still have Westminster seats in that case.

It is not that Britain should have more say over how these areas are run, but that all areas should have more localised powers. The main argument for representation is that it would give them a voice and greater attention from the UK Govt. I'd like to have seen Jack Straw attempt to discuss handing Gibraltar to Spain with the MP for Gibraltar attacking him for it.

This is entirely different to creating seats for Brits abroad, and certainly different to giving seats to Iraq or Sweden.

Londoner

This will just further complicate the W Lothian question, and so not be helpful. Even Scotland pays British taxes and has British pensions, welfare etc.

The idea was put forward seriously for Malta in the 1950s but I believe that that was on the basis that their government would be entirely integrated on national policies - welfare, tax etc - with just local govt services decided locally.

I am a bit surprised that this policy was considered important enough to be worth putting on here. But passing the MMR policy, and with voting margins and numbers kept so untransparent (how many hard line pro life votes, concerned just about that aspect, after a bit of emailing round, did it take to push through the MMR proposal? and how many specically voted from Party HQ to stop the embarrassment of the prostitution proposal?), I am becoming sceptical of this exercise.

Gildas

First the idea that the Dependent Territories have large degrees of autonomy is not true in all cases. The governors of some of the smaller islands wield a considerable amount of power with no scrutiny. How much attention was there in the British press on the widespread looting and subsequent pseudo-martial law in the Caymans after the last hurricane? I'd bet the average MP knows more about what happened in New Orleans after Katrina than what happened in the Caymans.

But I reiterate my comment about letting mainlanders settle on the islands. At present someone from a Dependent Territory can move to the UK, but not visa versa. THe reason for that is the islands are afraid of being swamped, but with little in the way of jobs on them, the sort of migrants from the UK they would get would be retired people.

That presents an opportunity - for retirement communities plow money into their host economies, with little in the way of cultural impact. Instead of sending our old people to Spain and S. France why not have them retire to the Caribbean, and make our dependencies self sufficient and no longer a drain on the taxpayer?

David Banks

Good idea. And lets get more overseas territories. sort of an Empire , again.

DavidTBreaker

Representation would give greater scrutiny to the government of these territories and of the UK Government's handling of their external affairs. It wouldn't complicate the West Lothian Question any more as it is already as complicated as it can get - what difference does it make including these areas when we already have this issue with Scotland, N Ireland and Wales? I see no reason why these areas shouldn't be given Westminster representation, the argument is merely that they shouldn't decide England only policy (which is obvious except to Labour). Gildas is also right regarding the need for equal settling rights, and the boost it would give to their economy.

DavidTBreaker

David Banks; I wouldn't recommend Empire building. If certain small territories wished to become a sort of protectorate under this kind of policy that would however be different.

Mike Christie

"for retirement communities plow money into their host economies, with little in the way of cultural impact."

Apart from the imapct of huge new property developments, huge impact on local property prices as land is snapped up to build these communities, evironmental damage from the increased demand for water and sewage, etc etc . Take a drive along the coasts of Spain and in the popular parts they are either like huge housing estates or continuous building sites interspersed with retail parks. I'd hardly call that little impact.

David Banks

David T Breaker
How would a protectorate be different David? Still sounds like a good idea to me , i'll call it an empire , feel free to call it a Protectorate. We can start off fairly small. Ireland for example.

David Banks

Can we have Adam Ricketts/ Eastenders Jamie representing 'the colonies' . Oh please?

Yet Another Anon

I'd be more inclined to remove their voting powers after a certain period rather than extend them.
The last Conservative government extended voting rights for ex-pats to 20 years after they had last been domiciled in the UK, the Labour government has cut it to 15 years - certainly there might be an argument for charging them for the right to vote and there could be various other arguments over how long after they have left the UK they should be allowed to still be eligible to vote and whether it should be varied for different types of election, it seems a bit perverse though for someone who had been living in Australia for almost 15 years to be voting in Local, Devolved, European and Parliamentary seats - so long as they have the right to vote it would make more sense for there to be some attempt at them having a local MP and not distorting representation in the UK itself - there are a couple of million ex-pats outside the UK eligible to vote in British elections.

Places such as Diego Garcia of course the original inhabitants were cleared out so that a US military base could go there, if governors are considered too powerful then surely more local assumption of powers is the solution.

Maybe if Overseas Territories, indeed other countries had representation in parliamentary committees but no voting rights in parliament, it would at least bring forward some interesting ideas for parliament to consider.

CDM

An excellent idea. Each dependent territory should be entitled to a single seat, as there is no effective way of grouping them together (and besides, they are all entirely different political, cultural and economic entites). Anglesey, the Isle of Wight, the Western Isles and Orkney and Shetland have always been entitled to a seat regardles of population, so why shouldn't this apply for the most distant islands as well?

Richard

"If we are concerned about Scots and Welsh MPs voting over English affairs we should be even more concerned about the large number of people who have decided that they'd rather live in France or Spain having a say over how things are done in the old country!"

Yes but at least expats tend to vote Tory ;)

Andy P

If we did do this the best thing to do would be to give them seats in the lords - that way they have no impact on who forms a government. It would be a little damagaing to Gibraltar if it's MP or MPs were responsible in a hung Parliament or on a key vote of ensuring one party wins over another. They could hardly look forward to fair treatment once that other party was back in power.

Don't the US give Puerto Rico a Congressman who can only speak but can't vote or something? Perhaps if they have to be in the Commons than speaking rights should be as far as it goes. Or as they already have their own governments maybe they could opt to send a rep to speak when needed.

Andy P

If we did do this the best thing to do would be to give them seats in the lords - that way they have no impact on who forms a government. It would be a little damagaing to Gibraltar if it's MP or MPs were responsible in a hung Parliament or on a key vote of ensuring one party wins over another. They could hardly look forward to fair treatment once that other party was back in power.

Don't the US give Puerto Rico a Congressman who can only speak but can't vote or something? Perhaps if they have to be in the Commons than speaking rights should be as far as it goes. Or as they already have their own governments maybe they could opt to send a rep to speak when needed.

Andy P

If we did do this the best thing to do would be to give them seats in the lords - that way they have no impact on who forms a government. It would be a little damagaing to Gibraltar if it's MP or MPs were responsible in a hung Parliament or on a key vote of ensuring one party wins over another. They could hardly look forward to fair treatment once that other party was back in power.

Don't the US give Puerto Rico a Congressman who can only speak but can't vote or something? Perhaps if they have to be in the Commons than speaking rights should be as far as it goes. Or as they already have their own governments maybe they could opt to send a rep to speak when needed.

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