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Should BVI seek special powers to reject UK laws?


Added on 24/08/2018

(BVI News) -- The British Virgin Islands is being asked whether local legislators should have the power to reject UK laws that only affect Overseas Territories, even if those laws are in relation to good governance and human rights.

Local attorney Jamal Smith proposed the question this week during a series of community meetings, which are being held to document residents’ comments on what they want the future of the BVI’s relationship with Britain to become.

While citing a 2013 UK report called the McKay Commission, Smith said having foolproof powers to overrule UK laws that would directly affect the BVI is largely attainable.

The aforementioned report examined a power struggle that had existed between England and the wider UK, which comprises nations such as Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.

During the time of the report, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh legislators could help determine laws that only apply to England but English legislators did not have ‘reciprocal influence’ on laws outside of England.

This was described as ‘highly unfair to the people of England’. So, in 2015, the UK’s House of Commons adopted a policy called EVEL – English Votes For English Laws.

EVEL effectively gives English legislators the power to ‘veto’ or ‘reject’ UK laws that only affect England.

‘BVI votes for BVI laws’

Attorney Smith said the BVI, therefore, can reasonably request its own version of EVEL.

“We have a strong case as a result of the 2013 McKay Commission report. We can use that as a leveraging point [to say]: ‘Look, you did it for yourselves, why don’t you do it for us’,” Smith said.

Smith’s statements about the BVI seeking certain powers to outvote the UK come amid Britain’s controversial policy that is forcing the BVI to implement what are known as public registers of company beneficial ownership.

The BVI has been attempting to resist the policy, which the UK passed in its parliament this year.