Turks and Caicos Islands

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 6 April 2010.

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Photo of Eric Illsley Eric Illsley Labour, Barnsley Central 2:30, 6 April 2010

What steps his Department is taking to improve the governance of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Europe)

The finances and governance of the Turks and Caicos Islands were in a sorry state when we were forced to suspend constitutional Government. We are now working through the Governor on stabilising the public finances, on immigration issues and on issues relating to Crown land. The special investigation and prosecution team is in place and working.

Photo of Eric Illsley Eric Illsley Labour, Barnsley Central

The Foreign Affairs Committee has recently been made aware of serious concerns about the special investigation team's current investigation in the Turks and Caicos Islands, namely about the lack of adequate resources to fund the investigation and about the timetable that will lead to the ending of direct rule from the UK as early as 2011, which might not allow for a complete investigation. Will he address those issues?

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Europe)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We need to make sure that a full investigation is conducted. That is why I am working very closely with colleagues in the Department for International Development to see whether there is a means of ensuring that the investigation team has the moneys to find out the truth, which is sorely needed in TCI. In that case, the moneys would be returned once assets were sequestered as a result of criminal investigations. We need to return as fast as possible to elections in TCI, because otherwise people will think that this is a return to colonial rule.