Remote islands may get seat in the Commons
Territories such as Antigua would elect MPs under new proposal
Voters in Britain's "forgotten" remnants of empire should be allowed to directly elect their own MPs to the House of Commons. Under a new proposal to be considered by Parliament, the member for Antigua might sit alongside the member for Aldershot, while the representative for the Turks & Caicos might find themselves waving their order papers at MPs from Tooting and Chichester. Territories ranging from Anguilla in the Caribbean, via the Channel Islands, Gibraltar and the Falklands to St Helena and South Georgia in the South Atlantic could be given a louder voice in determining how they are governed from London.
Andrew Rosindell MP, a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, who is pressing for a parliamentary debate on the issue, says action is needed to plug the "democratic hole" that hundreds of thousands of British citizens find themselves in. "Our parliament ultimately governs 21 territories around the world, but those territories have no voice in this parliament, they elect no representatives and have no representation, unlike former colonies and territories of other countries. We give them nothing. All they have is an informal all-party group. We have a democratic hole with hundreds of thousands of people for whom we make laws, whom we ultimately govern and on whose behalf we can declare war, make foreign policy and sign international treaties."
Lillian Missick, chair of the Turks & Caicos consultative council, welcomed the move. "A seat in the UK parliament ... will also formalise links with British society as a whole that come with the opportunities our people have to live, work and study in the UK."
Guy Opperman, Tory MP for Hexham, said the Falklands and other British territories should have a legal guarantee of self-determination rather than rely on the "whim of Whitehall". As tensions with Argentina over the Falklands escalate ahead of the 30th anniversary of the 1982 war, he said Parliament should pass a law guaranteeing the right of Britain's 14 overseas territories to choose their own fate.
In a debate on Tuesday, he will call on the Government to try to lift the Argentinian-inspired trade blockade of the Falklands. He added: "The Falkland islanders are rightly worried about this anniversary and the actions that Argentina is now taking to prevent access and trade, which we fear may escalate."
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