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The Status of the UK’s Overseas Territories in the 21st Century

20 April 2023

UK’s relationship with the Overseas Territories under spotlight in new inquiry.

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 Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s new inquiry. 

While ten of the UK’s Overseas Territories are self-governing, the UK is responsible for their defence and foreign relations. The interaction between the Overseas Territories and the UK Parliament and Government was brought to attention during the passage of the Sanctions and Money Laundering Act 2018, where the unusual step was taken to extend the Act to cover their jurisdictions.  

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.

Chair's comments

William Wragg MP, Chair of PACAC, said: 

“The UK Overseas Territories are an important part of the UK family. With ten territories permanently inhabited by British nationals and all fourteen 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.

We recognise that there is no ‘one size fits all’ framework for relations between the UK and the Overseas Territories, but by better understanding how existing arrangements operate in practice, we can better assess whether they are satisfactory and appropriate in the 21st century.” 

Terms of reference 

The Committee welcomes submissions by 5pm on Monday 4 September addressing any or all of the following questions: 

  • Are the UK’s current constitutional arrangements as regards the overseas territories satisfactory and appropriate in the 21st Century? 
  • What is the UK Government’s relationship with the overseas territories? 
  • What is the UK Parliament’s relationship with the overseas territories? 
  • How is legislation made in the overseas territories and what role does the UK Government and UK Parliament have in these processes? 
  • Are effective mechanisms in place for the interests of the Overseas Territories to be represented internationally?  
  • Are the rights and interests of British overseas citizens effectively protected by the current constitutional arrangements? 

Written evidence

Submit your written evidence here.

Further information

Image: Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office/Flickr