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The Editor Speaks: Grilled but not over cooked

I was very thankful I wasn’t in Cayman Islands representative in London, Eric Bush’s shoes, yesterday (16).

Bush faced a real grilling when he appeared before the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee that is reviewing Britain’s relationship with all its Overseas Territories (OT’s).

The Cayman Islands is trying hard to protect itself from “future constitutional overreach” by the UK parliament. This was in response to the beneficial ownership row, where the OT’s were singled out to provide far more information than the UK’s Crown Colonies and even themselves.

Bush tried hard to convince his questioners that Cayman was on the same side as they were in fighting money laundering, terrorist financing and corruption, but there was not a fair playing field now. The potential imposition of a beneficial ownership register betrayed years of constructive conversation. Cayman had already come to an agreement with the UK and the passing of this further legislation was almost beyond belief.

Bush would not answer the question put to him whether Cayman would abide by the order-in-council. Claiming he was a civil servant and therefore couldn’t answer that, nor if he thought his country was on a collision course with the UK.

A member of the committee said the reason for the registry was not on tax evasion but about national security. Bush wisely did not comment.

Bush did very well in telling the committee about our strong finances, our love for our Mother Country and the need for a close relationship with it.

Same sex marriage was also discussed and the position we have taken on it. Brexit was also mentioned and how the Foreign and Commonwealth Office deals with us.

Hot on the heels of the grilling came a Press Release form the Premier’s Office we have published in full today. The beginning said:

“Eric Bush today told members of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee that the Cayman Islands has identified opportunities to work with the United Kingdom to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

“Mr. Bush, the UK representative for the Cayman Islands in London, fielded questions from the committee, which is considering the resilience of the Overseas Territories, how effectively the Foreign and Commonwealth Office manages its responsibilities toward the OTs and how it sees their future.

‘“We welcome the opportunity to contribute to this review by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee into the future of the Overseas Territories,” said Cayman Islands Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin. “There are few such opportunities for us to actively contribute to open discussions about our place in the United Kingdom family of nations, and in light of recent questionable legislative activities, it is of paramount importance to us to review and improve our constitutional relationship with the United Kingdom.

‘“As a small Islands state we punch well above our weight as a leading place to live, visit and do business,” he said. “To assure this, we understand the need to be outward facing to global opportunities and challenges.”’

A list of recommendations was handed to the Committee.

If you go to the Press Release you will find the link to the whole meeting.

I think you will agree Bush got a thorough grilling but he came out of it not over cooked. I say well done!



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