Turks and Caicos Islands

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 3 April 1996.

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Photo of Mr Tom Arnold Mr Tom Arnold , Hazel Grove 1:45, 3 April 1996

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement about the governance of the Turks and Caicos Islands. [22625]

Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind Foreign Secretary

The Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands has our full support in his efforts to maintain good government. The Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Upminster (Sir N. Bonsor), met a delegation from the Legislative Council on 1 April, and he subsequently wrote rejecting its petition for the Governor's recall.

Photo of Mr Tom Arnold Mr Tom Arnold , Hazel Grove

I declare a registered interest. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that a triangular administration involving London, a regional secretariat in Barbados and Grand Turk is a trifle excessive for a population of 14,000? Would not a lighter touch be more appropriate?

Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind Foreign Secretary

Of course we are always willing to consider any improvements for the administration of the island. At this time, I have no reason to doubt that our current arrangements make the best use of resources and do not involve any unnecessary bureaucracy.

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn , Newport West

Why did right hon. and learned Gentleman reject the petition that alleged that Governor Burke treated the islands as a private fiefdom, treated the population with indifference and a lack of respect—having called them people of moral indifference, evaded the rules of customs clearance for his own family, appointed himself as a marriage officer to conduct the service for his brother-in-law and then immediately resigned from that office, and used a small fortune on the official residence at a time when the police funds are being neglected and crime on the island has risen 40 per cent. in the last three years?

Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind Foreign Secretary

I much regret that the hon. Gentleman has chosen to use the privilege of the House to make accusations against Her Majesty's Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands, when the allegations made against the Governor have been fully investigated, were found to be totally unjustified and were rejected. The hon. Gentleman might at least have taken account of the fact that, unlike his own efforts, the allegations against the governor were investigated and found to be unjustified. Against that background, it is unfortunate that the hon. Gentleman chooses to parrot allegations that he has been told about by other people.