The UK government has refused demands from the Foreign Affairs Committee to issue a timetable for a consultation process and deadline to phase out discriminatory elements of residency rules in the overseas territories.
The committee also put forward that belongership and equivalent concepts should be phased out to enable British citizens in the territories to vote or hold elected office.
"The FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) does not plan at a future date to publish such a timetable," government responded in a recent May 2019 report titled ‘Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the relationship: Government response to the Committee's Fifteenth Report'
We understand the OTs’ concerns, sensitivities and historical background on this issue"
It stated that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office regularly impresses on the overseas territories governments how important it is to allow people, who have made their permanent home in the territories, the ability to vote and fully engage in the community.
But the government also recognised the desire of the territories "to maintain their cohesion" and a corresponding "need for a reasonable qualifying process".
"We understand the OTs' concerns, sensitivities and historical background on this issue," the UK government said. "Our vision for the OTs is as vibrant and flourishing communities, with the widest possible opportunities for their people."
It continued: "We expect territory governments to meet the same high standards as the UK government in maintaining the rule of law, respect for human rights and integrity in public life, delivering efficient public services, and building strong and successful communities."
"We will continue to support and encourage consistent and open political engagement on Belongership and its territory-specific equivalents, whilst respecting the fact that Immigration decisions are primarily a matter for OT governments," the British government further said.
In the Cayman Islands, premier Alden McLaughlin said the suggestion was "akin to an attempt to take over the territory."
Turks and Caicos Islands premier Sharlene Cartwright Robinson said she would not accept "the unbridled influx of British citizens to be added to our voting population."
In the BVI, Premier Andrew Fahie has not yet directly ad- dressed the contents of the document, but Deputy Premier Dr. Natalio "Sowande" Wheatley told local news outlet Beacon that abolishing belongerships is not in the territory's best interest.
However, non-belongers who have lived in the BVI continuously for 15 years will soon be able to apply for residency and belongership under a new policy that eases the previous 20-year requirement to start the process, the local government said.