His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert announced during a media briefing on 15 March that he intends to communicate the views of the people of the BVI regarding the UK’s Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) report to the United Kingdom government soon.
The report which was published on 21 February has caused concern among citizens of the Territory as it relates to matters such as same sex marriage and Belonger status.
In making mention of the report the Governor said: “First let me say that the Foreign Affairs Committee is one of a number of Parliamentary Select Committees… I am aware of the concerns that have been expressed about the report as it raises important issues about British Overseas Territories Citizens living in the United Kingdom and British Citizens living in the territories and I am feeding those to London.”
The Governor pointed out that it is not unusual for the FAC to publish a report. “Select Committees check and report on areas ranging from the work of government departments to economic affairs. The results of these inquiries are public and many require a response from the government. The Foreign Affairs Committee examines the expenditure, administration and policy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its associated public bodies.”
His Excellency explained that the report is not meant to create conflict but rather promote harmonious living in the Territory. “The report speaks to the issue of every member of this society being valued and being able to live among each other in a fully unified and democratic society. I am encouraging persons to read the document for themselves as these are important issues that I hope will be discussed locally,” he pointed out.
Nonetheless, the Governor stressed that the views of the report should not be interpreted as the sentiments of the UK Government. “However, let me be clear that these are recommendations from a House of Commons Parliamentary Committee. They do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s policy.”
It was further noted that the UK Government FCO will respond to the FAC report by 21 April – two months after the publication of the report on the Overseas Territories. “There is also an opportunity for the BVI to make comments as well about the report”.
“I look forward to a strong sense of partnership to deliver for the people of the British Virgin Islands. A partnership where every partner in Government is respected, valued and plays their role to the full – the elected Government, the Governor, the public service, and the United Kingdom,” Governor Jaspert added.