Correspondence between the Chairman of
the Committee and the Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth
BERMUDA CONSTITUTION REVIEW PROCESS
Letter from the Chairman of the Committee to the
Thank you for your letter of 23 May in response
to mine of 9 May, about the Bermuda constitutional review process.
The Committee has asked me to write again, requesting
that we be kept in close touch with further developments in the
More generally, the Committee is concerned about
the Order in Council procedure under which constitutional changes
and related decisions affecting the Overseas Territories are made.
As you know, such Orders are subject to no parliamentary procedure,
and there is therefore no formal mechanism for amending them or
for requiring their revocation. Neither, as far as I am aware,
is there any informal opportunity before these Orders are presented
for views to be expressed within Parliament, which retains responsibility
within the United Kingdom for holding the Government to account
for its stewardship of the Territories. As your letter makes clear,
a draft Order in Council is "recommended to Her Majesty in
Council", before being made.
The Committee takes seriously its role of monitoring
the Government's activities in respect of Overseas Territories,
which are not themselves represented in Parliament. It therefore
wishes to see such draft Orders in Council before they are made,
so that it may decide whether they merit debate or scrutiny in
the public forum of Parliament, before they are approved by Her
Majesty in Council. I believe that such a system of scrutiny could
work very well under an informal understanding between the Government
and the Committee. It might prove useful, both for the Government
and for the House, to have some form of Parliamentary input before
the Orders are made.
I would welcome your thoughts on these matters
by 10 July, if possible, so that the Committee may consider them
further before the Summer recess.
Foreign Affairs Committee
18 June 2002