Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Seventh Report

Cayman Islands

Population: 48,353

GDP: $2.35 billion, GDP per head: $48, 704

Key industries: financial services, tourism

Associate Member of CARICOM


471.  The three Cayman Islands are situated 180 miles north-west of Jamaica in the Caribbean Sea and 150 miles south of Cuba. Grand Cayman, which is much larger than the others, lies 80 miles to the west of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which are separated from each other by a channel five miles wide. 94% of the population lives on Grand Cayman, with around 1,822 people residing on Cayman Brac and some 115 on Little Cayman. Offshore reefs and a mangrove fringe surround most of the Islands' coasts.


472.  No country attempted to colonise the islands before 1670, when Spain ceded the Cayman Islands and Jamaica to Britain by the Treaty of Madrid. After 1863 the Caymans formally became a dependency of Jamaica and the legislature of Jamaica had the final say over the locally passed laws of the islands. Cayman Brac and Little Cayman were not settled until 1833, and it was not until 1887 that a formal administrative connection between them and Grand Cayman was achieved. In 1959 the Islands ceased to be a dependency of Jamaica and became a unit territory within the Federation of the West Indies. When the Federation was dissolved in 1962, the Cayman Islands chose to remain under the British Crown.

Constitutional status

473.  The Cayman Islands have a large measure of self-government. The Governor retains responsibility for the civil service, defence, external affairs and internal security. The present constitution, which came into effect in 1972, provides for a system of government headed by a Governor, a Cabinet and a Legislative Assembly. Unlike other Caribbean Overseas Territories there is no Chief Minister, but a Leader of Government Business. The Legislative Assembly comprises the Speaker, who acts as President, three official members (the Chief Secretary, the Financial Secretary and the Attorney General) and 15 elected members. The Cabinet consists of the Governor as Chairman, three official members and five members drawn from the elected members of the Assembly. A wide constitutional review started in 2001. It was put on hold early in 2004 pending elections that year. A new four phase constitutional review programme began in March 2007. A referendum on a draft constitution will be held in July 2008.

474.  The People's Progressive Movement (PPM) are in government and the United Democratic Party (UDP) in opposition. The next elections are due to be held in 2009.

Evidence received

475.  The Committee received seven submissions from the Cayman Islands, including from the Leader of Government Business and the Complaints Commissioner.

476.  The Committee heard oral evidence from the Leader of Government Business in December 2007.

477.  A delegation of the Committee visited the Cayman Islands in March 2008.

Key recommendations

  • We recommend that the Government should closely monitor the conditions of prisoners, illegal immigrants and migrant workers in Overseas Territories to ensure rights are not being abused. (para 268)
  • We conclude that although extending voting rights to non-Belongers will be politically difficult for Overseas Territory governments, the Government should at least encourage local administrations to review this issue with regard to non-Belongers who have resided in an Overseas Territory for a reasonable period. We recommend that the Government should propose that non-Belongers' rights be an agenda item for the next OTCC. (para 275)
  • We recommend that the FCO should encourage Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and Gibraltar to continue to make progress in improving financial regulation, in particular in arrangements for investigating money laundering. (para 311)

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