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Bermuda and Great Britain

A British Overseas Territory with more self-government than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

line drawing

By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) at e-mail exclusively for Bermuda Online

To refer to this webfile, please use "bermuda-online.org/colonial" as your Subject

United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland


Her Majesty the Queen is Bermuda's official Head of State. 

The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office ( FCO) administers Bermuda internationally but in all other matters Bermuda is a self-governing British Overseas Territory (BOT), 3,076 miles from London, one of the 14  BOTS worldwide. (The others are - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_overseas_territories). 

UK Statutory Instruments Applicable to Bermuda as a BOT. See http://www.bermudalaws.bm/site_docs/ukstat.aspx

The FCO is represented in Bermuda by His Excellency the Governor and Deputy Governor, Government House, 11 Langton Hill, Pembroke HM 13. 11 Langton Hill, Pembroke HM 13. Telephone 441 292-1271. Governor's Office Fax 441 292 2256.

What Bermuda has with the UK is a colonial relationship which costs the Bermuda taxpayers $2 million a year. It is for the upkeep of the palatial Government House and its 30-plus pristine acres and for the Governor and Deputy Governor's salary and their cars, their security, their travel, their housekeepers, their domestic staff and their accommodation.

The Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Bermuda is appointed by The Queen (on the advice of the British Government in London) after consultation with the Premier of Bermuda. 

The present Governor of Bermuda - from May 2012 -  is George Fergusson - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Fergusson_(diplomat) - 56.  On April 20, 2012 he was assaulted in Hammersmith, London, and hospitalized. He lost the sight of his left eye resulting from the attack. The married father-of-three was walking in Margravine Cemetery, close to The Queen's Club when he was attacked. He was punched to the ground and robbed. The robber was black, aged between 25 and 35, and around 5ft 10 ins. He was wearing a dark hooded top and dark glasses. Mr Fergusson, who was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford, managed to keep hold of his mobile phone and after the incident, called his wife Margaret to tell him he was going to be late before walking to Charing Cross hospital for help. Previously a former British High Commissioner to New Zealand and Samoa, Mr Fergusson, of Lambeth, London until his move to Bermuda,  has also worked in the Soviet Department, which became the Eastern Department of the Foreign Office after the collapse of Communist Russia, and in London. Mr Fergusson, whose wife works for the British Council, also spent four years as Consul-General in Boston before being seconded in 2003 to the UK Cabinet Office as head of the foreign policy team. His career as a diplomat has also included time in Northern Ireland, Ireland, South Korea and the Pitcairn Islands. His father, Baron Ballantrae, was the last British-born Governor-General of New Zealand and served in that role between 1962 and 1967. Mr Fergusson was born abroad while his father served abroad as a senior soldier. His grandfather had also been governor-general of New Zealand and two of his great grandfathers were its governors when it was a colony. According to the Daily Mail newspaper in the UK, his family history has been plagued by tragedy: his mother was killed when winds blew a tree onto her car, his father died from a stroke and his 20-year-old son Alexander died after being hit by a taxi while pushing his bicycle across a bus lane. One of his middle names is Raukawa, a Maori word in recognition of the family's long association with the country. 

2012 Governor of Bermuda George Fergusson

Governor from May 2012, George Fergusson, photographed in London before his departure to Bermuda

2012 Governor inspecting the Bermuda Regiment

Several months after his arrival, inspecting the Bermuda Regiment, of which as Governor he is Commander-in-Chief. Royal Gazette photo.

The governorship of Bermuda was traditionally one of the most prestigious posts in the gift of the Government. For much of the last century it was given to a senior military officer on retirement, or a politician who had held senior office. The last of the latter type was David Waddington, Baroness Thatcher's last home secretary who as Lord Waddington was governor from 1992 until 1997. Since then the post has been held by career diplomats and usually comes with a knighthood for the holder.

His Excellency the Governor has his own Flag of Office. It is a Union Jack but in its center it has the Bermuda arms on a white disc encircled by a green garland. Uniforms for the Governor are made in London by Davies & Sons. They include a full dress blue and tropical cotton drill. It is based on old British military Field Marshals, with a white pith helmet with dyed scarlet swan's feathers plumage and Mameluke sword by Wilkinson Sword. The price of about $10,000 is met by the British Government. The official car used by the Governor  features a crown instead of a license plate, with extra large width, length and horsepower by Bermuda standards and the Governor's Flag. The main challenge for a Bermuda Governor is to balance two sometimes contradictory functions. First, he is the primary source of information from Bermuda to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the state of affairs in Bermuda. Second, he is the voice of the United Kingdom and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for advising Bermudians what they can and cannot do under British/United Kingdom laws. The salaries of the Governor, Deputy Governor and their staff are paid by Bermuda's taxpayers, NOT the British Government. Bermuda, despite its tiny size, is wealthy enough not to need the support from the United Kingdom some other overseas territories get.  

2013. December 13. Bermuda's first female Deputy Governor was sworn in at a ceremony at Government House. A career diplomat, Mrs. Ginny Ferson has previously worked in Mauritius, Luxembourg, South Korea and Pakistan during her more-than 25 years with the Diplomatic Service. She replaces David Arkley. A mother of two, Mrs. Ferson served as Deputy Governor of Pitcairn while she was simultaneously First Secretary at the British High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand and then British Consul-General in Auckland, New Zealand. The duties of the Deputy Governor include being an ex-officio notary public who can perform or notarize anything on behalf of the Bermuda Government but may not receive a fee for this service. Contact details are Deputy Governor's Office, Government House, 11 Langton Hill, Pembroke, Hamilton. Phone 441 292-3600. Fax 441 295-3823.

The Governor and Deputy Governor have direct access to security advice in Washington DC and London from senior British representatives.  

One of the functions of the British Governor is to read the Throne Speech. In Britain, the Queen reads the speech and in British Commonwealth countries, Governors or Governors General do.

The Government of Bermuda is self governing (except for defense, external affairs and internal security) - independent of the United Kingdom in all internal matters and with its own set of laws. The same applies in the Channel Islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Brechou, Great Sark, Little Sark, Herm, Jethou and Lihou) of Great Britain, near France and Isle of Man between Britain and Ireland.

Many Americans visiting Bermuda assume, wrongly, that British-UK laws apply. They do not. Bermuda laws do and are much more restrictive to non-nationals than any British, USA, Canadian, Caribbean, Australian, New Zealand and other democratic country laws.

Please note that despite Bermuda being a British Overseas Territory it does not come under European Community (EC laws) and Bermudians are not both British and EU citizens. UK nationals should note that British laws do not apply in Bermuda, Bermudian laws do; Britons and European Economic Community (EEC) citizens do not have any of the same rights to live, be domiciled, be employed and retire here as they do in the United Kingdom or EEC. For those who want to work in Bermuda, Work Permits apply just as much to Britons, Canadians, Europeans and Americans as to Philippine nationals or Mongolians.  Britons who are not also Bermudians have none of the rights that Bermudians in the UK now have if they apply for UK passports. It was the UK Government that approved that Bermudians could have, on application, a UK passport and be treated as full UK nationals in every other way, but that Britons in Bermuda who are not also Bermudian would not have reciprocal rights.

About 66% of the resident population of Bermuda is black.  About 33% are white or other races.

2013. December 13. Bermuda's first female Deputy Governor was sworn in at a ceremony at Government House this morning. A career diplomat, Mrs. Ginny Ferson has previously worked in Mauritius, Luxembourg, South Korea and Pakistan during her more-than 25 years with the Diplomatic Service. She replaces David Arkley. A mother of two, Mrs. Ferson served as Deputy Governor of Pitcairn while she was simultaneously First Secretary at the British High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand and then British Consul-General in Auckland, New Zealand.

2013. November 29.  Bermuda supports up to 100,000 jobs in the UK and trade between the two nations averages about $1.4 billon a year, according to a secret report seen by The Royal Gazette. The report given to the UK Foreign Office in the run-up to the Overseas Territories summit this week outlines the trade links between Bermuda and Britain. A report on the Island on the Foreign Office website, which used parts of the report, said: Bermudas expertise and capacity contributes directly to the UK economy from generating over 100,000 jobs on the UK mainland, more UK jobs that, for instance, of Japanese industrial investment in the country. The full report prepared for the Bermuda Ministry of Finance by a Washington-based consultancy said there were 52,500 posts backed by foreign direct investment from Bermuda, while 17,500 jobs were due to the export of services to the Island and between 10-22,000 jobs were supported from goods exported from the UK to Bermuda. The report lists the major economic sector as shipping and transport, business services and, above all, insurance and reinsurance. It added: "Most of the trade is due to an expanding relationship in insurance services trade between the UK and Bermuda that began to show up clearly in data by 2005 but had begun with investments made earlier that decade. Even during the global financial meltdown trade links remained strong, and remained at around the 1 billion ($1.63 billion) mark. Bermuda's relative economic significance with the United Kingdom compared to other developed and much larger economies grew enormously since 2000 and remained at a high level throughout the crisis." Overall, Bermuda ranks in the top 20 of the most important export markets for the United Kingdom. In fact, Bermuda accounted for 16-25 percent of the United Kingdoms cross border trade in insurance services for the last ten years and 20 percent of UK reinsurance services imports. The report said that two-way trade and investment flows between the two countries averaged about $1.4 billion between 2001 and 2011. It added: "The bulk of the UK/Bermuda economic relationship is in the export and import of financial and non-financial services including equally both cross-border trade and services delivered through UK subsidiaries of companies headquartered in Bermuda." In 2011, UK cross-border service imports to Bermuda amounted to GBP338 million ($552 million) and UK imports from Bermuda were GBP680 million ($1.1 billion). The report said that Britain exports on average around $81.7 million in manufactured goods to the Island every year, It added: "The chief UK exports are transportation equipment principally yachts, commercial ships and airplanes made or finished in the UK or Europe." Bermuda's partnership with the UK in trade in ships and jets is long-standing and based on shared commitment to regulation of air and maritime safety and strong environmental standards. The report also said that Bermudas financial services industry attracted UK investors partly due to its close links to Britain and similar legal system. It added: "First, Bermuda provides a global investment platform that attracts international capital. Second, investors from around the world view Bermuda as well regulated, primarily because as a territory of the United Kingdom, Bermuda has close legal and administrative affinity with the UK regulatory system." Financial stakeholders have recourse to UK courts and the UK Financial Services Agency has strong relations to the Bermuda Monetary Authority. Third, Bermuda's tax system is attractive to most global investors. Bermuda does not tax worldwide income and does not impose a personal or corporate tax. The upshot of this large-scale international economic activity of Bermuda as a financial entrepot benefits the United Kingdom as well as other jurisdictions. Minister of Finance Bob Richards, who was part of the delegation at the London Overseas Territories meeting, was yesterday en route back to the Island and not available for comment.

2013. November 26. A summit meeting of the Overseas Territories and the UK government will focus on economic growth and job creation, the UK government said yesterday. Premier Craig Cannonier and Senator Michael Fahy, the Minister for Home Affairs, yesterday arrived in London for the meeting, held by Overseas Territories Minister Mark Simmonds. And the meeting, which starts today, will be followed for the first time by a business forum designed to promote investment opportunities in the UK's Overseas Territories. Mr Simmonds said: "Jobs and economic growth are fundamental to building safe, successful and sustainable territories." The year's joint ministerial council will focus on agreeing practical steps for the UK and Overseas Territories to work together to achieve that goal. According to the UK Foreign Office, the meeting will concentrate on economic diversification, attracting investment, vocational education and jobs. The FCO added: "There are also likely to be discussions on the environment, tax and transparency and the relationship between the Territories and the European Union." Follow-up business forum, to be held on Thursday, would bring together, for the first time, all the Overseas Territories with UK businesses and investors of all sizes to explore the numerous exciting investment opportunities available to the Territories. Mr Simmonds added: "I am delighted to welcome back the leaders from the Overseas Territories to the second joint ministerial council. We have achieved much by working in partnership towards our shared vision for the Territories as vibrant and flourishing communities in line with our 2012 white paper on the Territories." The council meeting will also discuss health, the environment, visas and passports and criminal justice issues.

2013. November 25.  Minister of Finance Bob Richards today signed the UK FATCA Intergovernmental Model 2 Agreement, IGA Model 2 with the United Kingdom. Signing on behalf of the UK was the Secretary to the Exchequer, the Hon. David Gauke. A press release announcing the move quoted the Minister of Finance, who said: "The signing of IGA Model 2 is in keeping with the Government's international tax strategy which is to demonstrate our commitment to tax transparency and automatic exchange of information, and ensure Bermudas reputation as the premier international financial jurisdiction in which to do business. The significance of choosing IGA Model 2 versus IGA Model 1 means all Bermuda's financial institutions must identify all UK residents with interests in Bermuda and automatically report them to HM Treasury on an annual basis. HM Treasury will receive the information on those residents in bulk form and will be able to issue group requests for information in relation to recalcitrant clients of Bermuda financial institutions." Recalcitrant clients are persons who refuse consent to allow the financial institution to automatically share their information. Additionally, where HM Treasury initiate investigations on a person with respect to possible tax evasion, a request for information can be made under the UK Bermuda Tax Information Exchange Agreement. Utilizing this method of automatic exchange of information guarantees the rights, safeguards, and confidentiality of the information received in regards to those persons.

2013. November 19.  Ahead of the annual meeting of Overseas Territories leaders this month in London, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office is featuring an overseas territory on Facebook every day. Bermuda will be today's selection. The annual Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council brings together political leaders from the Overseas Territories and UK Ministers. It will meet on November 26 and 27, hosted by FCO Minister for the Overseas Territories, Mark Simmonds. Governor George Fergusson hopes Bermuda residents will take time out to view the new Facebook page. He said: "The discussions going on in London at the end of the month will involve topics which are important for each Overseas Territory, including Bermuda. We can learn from some of their experiences and I am sure they can certainly learn from us." The page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-UK-Overseas-Territories-Family/540473239364441.

2013. November 8. Bermuda is the most secretive UK offshore territory, according to an influential British think tank on tax. Now the Tax Justice Network (TJN) has written to the Queen asking her to intervene to tackle tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions where she is Head of State. But last night Finance Minister Bob Richards blasted the survey and said it was riddled with inaccuracies and total nonsense. A letter from Tax Justice Network chairman John Christensen to the Queen said she should exert all possible influence to tackle harmful fault lines in the global economy. Bermuda comes top of the ten Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies reviewed in the biannual TJN financial secrecy index with a score of 80 one point ahead of Gibraltar and two points ahead of the scandal-hit Turks & Caicos Islands. But Mr Richards said: "I guess you just can't believe everything you see,  this article is sheer nonsense as far as Bermuda is concerned." Mr Richards singled out Bermuda being marked as wholly incompliant on obtaining and updating beneficial ownership information. But he said: "That is total nonsense. Bermuda has obtained beneficial ownership information on all international clients since soon after Second World War. We are one of the few places that does collect the information." The Island is also marked down on whether it requires company accounts to be publicly available. But Mr Richards said private company accounts are not required to be made public in most jurisdictions. He added: "I don't know of any G8 country that publicly reveals accounts unless they are a public company on the stock exchange. Its really hypocritical. It's not required in the US or UK." Mr Richards also pointed out that the island had signed almost 40 tax information exchange agreements including ones with almost all G8 countries and 75 percent of G20 countries. He added Bermuda had also signed up to the OECD/Council of Europe multilateral tax agreement and the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA). Mr Richards said: "This report is riddled with deception or a political agenda, I don't know which it is." TJN founder, accountant and economist Richard Murphy, said: "This unique index combines a secrecy score with a weighting to create a ranking of the countries that most actively and aggressively promote secrecy in global finance." Of 15 key secrecy indicators singled out by TJN, the island is listed as wholly incompliant on nine of them. Worldwide, Switzerland topped the league table of 82 countries. Mr Murphy said: "This new edition of the financial secrecy index shows that the United Kingdom is the most important player in the financial secrecy world. While the UK itself ranks only in 21st place, it supports and partly controls a web of secrecy jurisdictions around the world from Cayman and Bermuda to Jersey and Gibraltar. Had we aggregated the entire British network it would easily top the index, far above Switzerland. Claims in September by British Prime Minister David Cameron that the UK havens are no longer a concern are baseless. Our index, now expanded to cover 82 jurisdictions, also reveals how broader claims by the G20 and leading powers to have cracked down effectively on tax havens are bogus. While some welcome promises have been made and modest improvements seen, we remain light years away from seeing the transformative changes the world so urgently needs." Mr Cameron told a meeting of the powerful G8 group of nations in June that he would use Britain's presidency of the forum to rewrite the rules on tax and transparency for the benefit of countries right across the world. He was praised last week when he announced at the Open Government Partnership in London that companies registered in the UK would have to list their real owners in public filings. But tax campaigners said that the move was a token gesture unless it also included trusts and foundations and countries linked to Britain. Mr Christensen, who worked in the trust industry in Jersey and as an economic adviser to the Jersey government before quitting to become a tax transparency campaigner, said: "None of the Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies operate a properly transparent public register of offshore companies, trusts and foundations. None obtain information on beneficial ownership and make this publicly available. Not one requires that all company financial accounts are made publicly available. The use of offshore jurisdictions also hit countries who are members of the Commonwealth, which is headed by the Queen, and contributed to poverty in developing nations. The victims of this secrecy include, among others, a billion Commonwealth citizens. A recent study of 33 African countries found that they lost over $11 trillion in capital flight since the 1970s, of which $640 billion came from 16 Commonwealth countries. These losses dwarf the external debts of just $190 billion for the 33 countries."

2013. October 9.  Two top Foreign Office officials have paid a flying visit to Bermuda to familiarize themselves with the Islands business environment. And Tim Colley and Marilia Astle took time to meet with Chamber of Commerce members who stressed that Bermuda was not a tax haven, as it has been portrayed in sections of the UK media in recent times. The meeting also led to an invitation to the Chamber to send representatives to the UK Overseas Territories business, trade and investment forum, to be held in London next month. Joanne MacPhee, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said: "They were very interested in the Chambers position on the local economy and keen to receive an update on our current lobbying efforts. Our meeting was brief, but we were able to summarize a number of initiatives and report on a broad range of issues related to business in Bermuda. The issue of recent negative press in the UK was discussed and it is hoped that in the coming months the Bermuda Business Development Corporation will seek to address these issues head on and begin to generate positive press about our competitive advantages and favorable status as a transparent and well-regulated offshore jurisdiction that and the fact that Bermuda is very much open for business."  Deputy Governor David Arkley said the two Foreign Office diplomats had special responsibilities for the Overseas Territories in the Caribbean and Bermuda. Ms Astle, who has just taken over as team leader for the Caribbean Overseas Territories and Bermuda, was on her first visit to the island. Mr Arkley said: "It was a fact-finding mission just to get to know Bermuda. They will be looking after Bermuda in the London context and so it was a familiarization visit." The visit came after Bermuda hit the headlines again in a row over a tax avoidance scheme used by internet giants Google, which channels money through the Republic of Ireland to the Island in order to minimise its UK tax bill. Google last year only paid 2.6 percent tax in the US on sales worth $8.1 billion because it channeled most of its overseas profits through Bermuda, which has no corporate income tax. Previous revelations about Google's tax arrangements have led UK parliamentarians to denounce them as immoral and led to demands that the Island change its laws. Google said it follows tax rules in all the countries it operates in and pays little tax in the UK became its profits are not generated by UK employees. The UK arm of the firm, as well as other European operations, are designated as providers of marketing services to Google Ireland. But Google declares little profit in Ireland because it sends nearly all the cash it gets to the Bermuda affiliate, in the form of licence fees for use of Google intellectual property. The scheme although legal has attracted criticism in the recession-hit UK and led to the Island being branded as a tax haven. Mr Arkley said: "I would characterize this as something we are aware of and we have raised with the Bermuda Government. The characterization that comes out in the UK media is not always accurate. I know its something that Prime Minister David Cameron has made statements on and that's a more accurate portrayal of the UK government's position than that which appears in the newspapers in the UK."

2013. October 1. The tax spotlight was yesterday turned on Bermuda again after it was revealed that internet giants Google last year paid a tiny percentage in UK tax on sales of nearly $5 billion by funneling cash to the island. Previous revelations about Google's low tax bills have sparked calls for Bermuda to tighten up on its laws. But island economics expert Peter Everson said that multinationals wielded enormous power and were able to get the tax arrangements they wanted. He said, of the USA and UK: "All of their problems are written in the tax codes of the US and Britain. The reality is, if Washington wanted companies to pay more tax, it changes the law in Washington. These same guys who have all these foreign sales also contribute large amounts of campaign dollars. Likewise, David Cameron in Britain, it's precisely the same for UK companies. In the UK, they've made it easier for companies to pay less tax than it used to be. Bermuda's perspective is a PR one.  This is what Bermuda is. An international platform for foreign business. It doesn't cut tax or reduce tax. There are all sorts of different ways to fund governments and electors get to choose the way at the ballot box. Those who shout the loudest, it's always the problems at home. Its clear those shouting the loudest are the UK, the US and France, the countries with the biggest problems. Premier Craig Cannonier was right to call for a united front by the UK Overseas Territories to combat being branded tax havens. He was right in saying it's important that the smaller jurisdictions act in the same manner and should all speak out together and say its not our problem, its yours." Mr Everson was speaking after Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie told the UN it needed to take action to protect small island economies. Mr Perry said offshore jurisdictions were the victims of ongoing economic aggression by larger countries. He said offshore jurisdictions should be regulated by UN-led mechanisms to balance the needs of both sectors. And he warned that crippling offshore economies would cause tens of thousands of newly-empowered middle class citizens to slop back into poverty or to migrate to the developed world. Mr Everson said: "There should be a forum which one it is, I'm not qualified to say." The news came after it was revealed that Google last year only paid 2.6 percent tax in the US on sales worth $8.1 billion because it channeled most of its overseas profits through Bermuda, which has no corporate income tax. Previous revelations about Google's tax arrangements have led UK Parliamentarians to denounce them as immoral and led to demands that the island change its laws. Google said it follows tax rules in all the countries it operates in and pays little tax in the UK became its profits are not generated by UK employees. The UK arm of the firm, as well as other European operations, are designated as providers of marketing services to Google Ireland. But Google declares little profit in Ireland because it sends nearly all the cash it gets to the Bermuda affiliate, in the form of licence fees for use of Google intellectual property. The Westminster public accounts committee (PAC), however, has pointed out that the firm has advertised for sales people in the UK, despite Google's insistence that it conducts no sales in Britain. A PAC report last year accused Google of using contrived mechanisms to avoid tax and said the UK should close the loopholes. Tax avoidance was earlier this year a major topic at both the G20 and G8 and the pressure on offshore jurisdictions is likely to intensify as the western world continues to struggle with the financial problems of the global recession.

2013. September 27. Government House last night moved to clarify the impact of the move by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to consolidate passport production in Britain and away from embassies, high commissions and consulates around the world. The recent announcement sparked comment by politicians and residents, particularly the production of emergency passports. A Langton Hill spokesperson wrote the move is designed to produce British Citizen and British Overseas Territory passports to new and higher security standards at reasonable cost and that there is no reason to believe that third countries would be concerned about whether an Overseas Territory passport is printed in Durham, England or Hamilton, Bermuda. They are more likely to welcome the fact that it is being printed to the highest possible security specifications. These specifications are constantly being revised upwards. There are no plans to abolish British Overseas Territory passports. Discussions with the British Government are ongoing on emergency passports and the Governor, George Fergusson, very much hopes that an arrangement will be in place (within a year or two) which enables Bermudians to get travel documents quickly if they need them for emergency travel. But it is always a good idea to make sure that your passport, UK and/or Bermudian, is up to date. Information on applying for passports can be obtained from the Department of Immigration, who will continue to be responsible for the application process when the changes are implemented.

2013. September 7. The Ministry of Finance and the Cabinet Office announced today that the Government of Bermuda has written to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to request that the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters (Convention) include Bermuda. A Government spokesman said the request has been made to include Bermuda at the earliest possibly moment, following a decision made by Finance Minister The Hon E. T. Richards. The spokesman went on to explain that for developing countries, the benefit of signing the Multilateral Convention is that it allows them to sign one multilateral agreement and simultaneously create an exchange of information network with Bermuda, and many jurisdictions, rather than negotiating many individual tax agreements on a bilateral basis. It stated that currently there are 56 jurisdictions that are signatories to the Convention. Finance Minister Richards said: "We are delighted to have become signatories to the Multilateral Convention which will further establish our leadership as a best practice environment for financial transparency and efficiency."

2013. August 12. British passport applications must now be sent to Durham, UK, instead of Washington DC. Persons wanting to renew their passports must include the old passport with their application, Government House announced yesterday. Applicants were previously able to send a copy of their passport during hurricane season. The changes are intended to improve security and “consistency in decision making”, a spokesman said. “On August 12, 2013 the application process will be centralised and British citizens in Bermuda will need to submit their passport application to Her Majesty’s Passport Office in the UK,” the spokesman said. “There should be no change in processing times. British Overseas Territory Citizen passport holders should continue to submit their passport applications and renewals for BOTC passports through the Bermuda Department of Immigration.” British passports can be renewed up to nine months ahead of the expiry date with no loss of validity, meaning a new passport can be valid for ten years and nine months. Those applying for UK passports should send their documents by secure courier to: Her Majesty’s Passport Office OVS-D, Millburngate House, Millburngate, Durham  DH97 1PA, England, UK. Useful website: www.gov.uk/overseas-passports.

2013. August 5. Bermuda is ready to sign off on a Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) agreement with the US Government, Finance Minister Bob Richards has announced. The agreement, initialed by Bermuda and the US, must next be endorsed by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Mr Richards thanked the Bermuda FATCA Committee for laying the groundwork for the tax transparency pledge, known as the FATCA Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) Model 2. The Island's negotiating team was led by the Ministry of Finance's Wayne Brown, with Acting Treaty Advisor Dennis Simons. Bermuda's affirmation of the tax transparency agreement will help the US in curtailing tax evasion, according to Robert Stack of the US Treasury. The Minister also thanked US tax code expert Mike Murphy, HSBC's tax expert Lyndon Quinn, and Appleby managing partner and corporate lawyer Kiernan Bell, for traveling to Washington, DC to assist with negotiations. Also commended were Alan Granwell of DLA Piper (US); Senior Crown counsel Shakira Dill; James Berry and Charles Thresh of KPMG, and Paul Eldridge and Colm Homan of PWC.

2013. July 24. The number of requests for data which UK tax authority Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) made to Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories on possible tax evaders hit a record high last year, Tax-News reported. The publication says HMRC made 72 requests for financial data from territories such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and Jersey last year (ending December 31, 2012) regarding personal and business taxes, up 26 percent on the 57 in 2011 and 32 in 2010. The UK's Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories have come under increasing pressure from the UK Government in Whitehall to start cooperating more closely with HMRC in order to root out tax evaders. The news comes as HMRC finalizes new tax compliance information sharing arrangements with the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories among other measures that are set to catch tax evaders.” Under proposed tax compliance information sharing arrangements, HMRC will soon be able to obtain greater levels of information about bank accounts held by UK taxpayers in the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories automatically. The new rules will be closely modeled on the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act — US legislation which sets out new reporting requirements for foreign financial institutions with accounts held by US national residents overseas. And in May 2013, all Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories with significant financial centers announced a commitment to tackle tax evasion with the aim of setting a new standard of international tax transparency. Many of them have also agreed to sign up to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters — a data sharing initiative led by the OECD.

2013. June 22. Premier Craig Cannonier and other leaders of the UK’s Overseas Territories protested British Prime Minister David Cameron’s representation that they had “signed up” to an international tax information agreement, and were ignored, it has emerged. Mr Cameron told the House of Commons this week that the Overseas Territories had signed up to a tax information and transparency agreement, although no document was signed. Facing a grilling from members of the Opposition Progressive Labour Party at yesterday’s House of Assembly sitting, Mr Cannonier said that OT leaders had received advance notice of the Prime Minister’s messaging and had voiced their concerns. Mr Cannonier returned to Bermuda following meetings in London with Mr Cameron saying that Bermuda had not signed any agreements. A day later the British Prime Minister told the House of Commons that the Overseas Territories had “signed up to the multilateral convention on information exchange, agreed automatic exchange of information with the UK and action plans for beneficial ownership.” PLP MP Walton Brown kicked off the questions in the House of Assembly. “I can assure you that the Premier of Bermuda is not misleading you. My statements have been consistent and will remain consistent in the direction in which Bermuda wishes to go. I cannot speak for Prime Minister Cameron but it does concern me as well,” Mr Cannonier said. The Premier also revealed that a request for a private meeting with the Prime Minister was not honoured. But he rejected a suggestion that agreeing to go to the London talks meant he had ceded constitutional power to the UK. “Bermuda will maintain its right constitutionally to direct its future as far as tax evasion is concerned, as far as beneficial ownership is concerned. We will continue on that path.” Asked by MP Walton Brown if he would “convey his discontent” to the UK, the Premier said: “That displeasure was displayed by all of the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. We will continue to massage and work this relationship. But it has been noted and I have also made sure that the Governor is aware of our discontent as well.” The OT leaders had received advanced notice that the Prime Minister planned to tell the world that they had signed up to the tax evasion agreements, Mr Cannonier explained under questioning from Glenn Blakeney. “We voiced our concerns prior to that statement being put out.” Mr Cannonier got a passing grade for his responses from Mr Brown. “He was very candid and I appreciate that,” he told The Royal Gazette. “The Premier has effectively distanced himself from the comments made by Cameron in the House of Commons.” He continued: “He would not say it explicitly, but clearly Prime Minister Cameron has misled the House in that regard.” But Mr Brown, an Independence advocate, remains concerned that Bermuda has now ceded some authority over its affairs back to the UK by going to London and allowing the Prime Minister to speak on its behalf in respect of financial and tax policy. “That to me is a manifestation of devolution of powers back to the UK.” Mr Brown said: “This trip was called by Cameron to grandstand and make it appear to the G8 that he had gotten his boys, so to speak, in line.” In his statement to the House Mr Cannonier stressed that Government “did not take a quantum leap in any commitment or undertaking given in London.” This is what the Premier told the House of Assembly yesterday. “We talked about Bermuda’s highly regarded and well regulated international insurance sector that provides G8 countries with catastrophe risk insurance and pays claims on a timely basis. We explained how Bermuda’s global insurance sector supports jobs in the United Kingdom and in the European Union. We differentiated Bermuda as an international financial centre with a comparative advantage in the delivery of insurance and reinsurance products and services to the global community. We stated that it was fundamentally incorrect and misleading to categories Bermuda as a tax haven. We were clear that Bermuda would protect its economic interests.  We asserted that Bermuda is already committed to fully to the fight against tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. We pointed to our compelling history of action in this regard.” Mr Cannonier and Mr Richards went to London at the request of the British Prime Minister in advance of the UK chaired G8 Summit this week. The Prime Minister’s priority was tax information sharing and transparency with respect to who really owns and benefits from companies. Exchange of information under the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance on Tax Matters was a key topic of conversation, the Premier said. “Bermuda has publicly stated its support to the review being undertaken to consider a possible new standard of government registries for beneficial ownership. However, Bermuda is well advanced in this practice and it is really for many of the G8 jurisdictions to catch up. My Government will work to improve access to information on beneficial ownership of companies. In doing so, however, we will not adopt measures that diminish our competitive capacity thereby leading to a loss of jobs in our economy. ”

2013. June 21. Government “did not take a quantum leap in any commitment or undertaking given in London,” Premier Craig Cannonier told the House of Assembly this morning. He and Finance Minister Bob Richards told the “real Bermuda story” in London. “We talked about Bermuda’s highly regarded and well regulated international insurance sector that provides G8 countries with catastrophe risk insurance and pays claims on a timely basis,” he said. “We explained how Bermuda’s global insurance sector supports jobs in the United Kingdom and in the European Union. We differentiated Bermuda as an international financial centre with a comparative advantage in the delivery of insurance and reinsurance products and services to the global community. We stated that it was fundamentally incorrect and misleading to categorise Bermuda as a tax haven. We were clear that Bermuda would protect its economic interests. We asserted that Bermuda is already committed fully to the fight against tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. We pointed to our compelling history of action in this regard.” Mr Cannonier and Mr Richards went to London at the request of the British Prime Minister in advance of the UK chaired G8 Summit this week. The Prime Minister’s main priority was tax information sharing and transparency with respect to who really owns and benefits from companies. Exchange of information under the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance on Tax Matters was a key topic of conversation, the Premier said. And he repeated assurances that Bermuda was a leader in providing access to beneficial ownership information. “Bermuda has publicly stated its support to the review being undertaken to consider a possible new standard of government registries for beneficial ownership. However, it bears repeating that Bermuda is well advanced in this practice and it is really for many of the G8 jurisdictions to catch up. My Government will work to improve access to information on beneficial ownership of companies. In doing so, however, we will not adopt measures that diminish our competitive capacity thereby leading to a loss of jobs in our economy. That would be foolhardy.”

2013. June 21. Whitehall does not consider Bermuda as a tax haven, according to Governor George Fergusson. In a statement issued yesterday, the Governor said that British Prime Minister David Cameron appreciated Premier Craig Cannonier’s visit to London last weekend. “The Premier’s visit to London last weekend was greatly appreciated by the Prime Minister, David Cameron,” Mr Fergusson said. “In his speech at Saturday’s G8 ‘Open for Growth’ event to heads of state, NGOs and others, Mr Cameron commended the leadership shown by the Overseas Territory and Crown Dependency Premiers and Chief Ministers in the area of transparency. It is clear that Bermuda is not a tax haven. It has a long record of transparency on beneficial ownership and banking, and tight and widely respected regulation of financial services. Its core business is insurance and reinsurance, which is conducted to the highest standards. And non-resident bank deposits are not a feature of its economy. As the British Government has focused its G8 Presidency on promoting transparency and reducing aggressive tax avoidance, not least to ensure that developing countries can develop their own tax base, Bermuda has been well placed to stay in the front echelon of economies on tax and transparency issues. The standards in this area have risen rapidly in recent years. Bermuda, like other countries, including Britain, has had to, and will continue to have to, bring in measures to stay at the front. But Bermuda is doing this from a position of strength. The commitments made, with others, last weekend have not involved Bermuda having to move radically: it was already a leader in the number of the bilateral Tax Transparency Agreements which it had negotiated. As the global practice for this switches to an international, multilateral agreement, Bermuda already has extensive experience of operating tax transparency agreements with other countries. It will be able to set out provisions to safeguard its interests. Bermuda has had a proud record of benefiting from a reputation for probity. It is clear that, even in this now fast-moving area, Bermuda will remain among those at the front.” The Governor’s statement echoes the position promoted by Mr Cannonier that Bermuda is a low tax jurisdiction but not a tax haven. Asked to define a tax haven by British standards, Deputy Governor David Arkley said that the UK adopted the definition crafted by the OECD (see below). That definition stresses “nil or nominal taxes”, protection of personal information and lack of transparency. Government is mulling the implications of signing onto the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax Matters, a global standard of tax information exchange intended to combat tax evasion. Bermuda’s position is that it agrees with it in principle and already abides by many of its provisions.

Definition of a Tax Haven. (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development):

June 20, 2013.  Bermuda and a handful of other British Overseas Territories have agreed to “commit to joining” the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax Matters and take part in a pilot tax information exchange initiative launched by the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, according to a press statement issued on PRnewswire. But none of that was apparent when Premier Craig Cannonier and Finance Minister Bob Richards updated the media on their meetings in London on Tuesday. Instead, the Premier stressed he had signed no deal on Bermuda’s behalf and that he had asked British Prime Minister David Cameron for more time to examine the details of the Convention. According to Mr Cannonier, the Bermuda delegation had stressed to Mr Cameron that Bermuda and the other OTs had not been given a “fair opportunity” to examine the multilateral agreement that he wanted signed. Asked if the UK had accepted the request for more time, the Premier said: “They have to.” However, the press release, issued by Citigate Dewe Rogerson, the UK PR agency for the British Virgin Islands, states: “We, the Political Leaders of the Overseas Territories of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat and Turks and Caicos, warmly welcome our meeting with the Prime Minister today to discuss Tax, Trade and Transparency, where we had a very clear agreement and constructive exchange of views on the practical steps needed to tackle the global problem of tax evasion and how the UK and the Overseas Territories will continue to apply our high standards of regulation to address this. As part of our contribution to advancing this global agenda and to create a level playing field right across the world, different Overseas Territories at different times, and now unanimously, have reiterated and confirmed our agreement to the following three important steps:

And Mr Cameron reported as much in his remarks to the UK House of Commons on the G8 summit, which followed his meeting with the OTs. “The Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies have signed up to the multilateral convention on information exchange, agreed automatic exchange of information with the UK and action plans for beneficial ownership,” he said yesterday. Last night Mr Cannonier insisted the release did not contradict his update to Bermudians on Tuesday. “The statement that was released is a general statement that was being worked on by all members of the Overseas Territories last week. As we are at varying degrees of compliance, the statement speaks to our overarching agreement to comply with the Multilateral Convention Agreement initiative to exchange information and increase transparency, of which Bermuda has been leading the way. For example, in the statement, the second point speaks to the need for information regarding Beneficial Business Ownership and the exchange of information. It is no secret that Bermuda has signed almost 40 TIEAs and already has a registry of Beneficial Ownership for the companies doing business in Bermuda. Other countries are not as far along that far along in the process, but agree with it nonetheless. As OTs we agreed to each go away and speak to our own respective stakeholder groups to provide a more detailed account regarding our current status, which was clearly articulated at yesterday’s press conference. Bermuda’s position remains the same — we agree with the Multilateral Convention Agreement in principle, as do the other OTs, but we haven’t signed the agreement. As to your question regarding why wasn’t the local media sent the release, I can’t speak to that as I don’t know which country sent the release out.”

June 19, 2013. Massive injustices exposed in UK's tax system compared to Bermuda's. From a prominent Bermudian writer. "Many Bermudians applaud Apple, Google, Starbucks, Yahoo, etc in UK for not paying more taxes there than they have to. Good for them for not acting like sheep to injustices. Instead of picking on Bermuda and other British Overseas Territories for not applying the multinational corporate taxes they want to see imposed, the UK government should instead look into and correct deliberate and massive tax avoidance, tax evasion and tax haven ploys that severely affect most UK taxpayers and were perpetrated not by multi-national companies but specifically by Houses of Parliament in both Westminster and Holyrood (Scotland). So many people in the UK who own modest three bedroom homes market valued at under £200,000 have to pay more in Council Tax (real estate tax) in Band E to their local authorities than the Queen does for her £850 million Band H Buckingham Palace. It's not the Queen's problem, it's an injustice legislated by British UK MPs and MSPs respectively all over the UK. In Scotland, MSPs legislated the Local Government Finance Act 1992 which gave local authorities responsibility to administer and fix council taxes. But they have not done so fairly. They have not used Buckingham Palace as a national yardstick. They should be asking all other UK homeowners to pay their real estate taxes at an appropriate fraction of what Buckingham Palace pays. It should have been a Parliamentary responsibility to enact a fair-to-all tax based on national comparisons. Instead, with cynical disregard for their voters, UK parliaments allowed each local authority to apply its own rates of council taxes as flagrant human rights wrongs for the inequities they make people suffer. Is it right and proper that while the Queen pays only £1400 or so (say BD$2,000) a year, Bermuda as a British Overseas Territory should charge some homeowners in the region of $25,000 a year in real estate tax for a home not worth anywhere near as much as Buckingham Palace? No, it's not right, it's a massive wrong. It is good to hear that American, Canadian and other media will be mentioning these horrible inequities during and after the G8 conference, as examples of tax evasion, tax avoidance and tax haven practices the UK should have eradicated long ago but have not. Until the UK rights its flagrant tax avoidance, tax evasion and downright tax-haven-like Council-Tax exemptions for all Band H homeowners and set the Bands instead from A-Z with Buckingham Palace as the Z, with its Parliaments setting an example, it is outrageous for the UK to expect tiny but responsible international business centers like Bermuda (not a tax haven) to comply."

These figures confirm the stark comparison in British UK and Bermudian annual real estate taxes, excluding water and waste water charges:

June 19, 2013. Bermuda and other Overseas Territories are being used as the scapegoats for policy failures of larger countries, but more must be done to educate Europe about the Island’s business model. So said Finance Minister Bob Richards and Premier Craig Cannonier as they updated the media yesterday on their meetings with British Prime Minister David Cameron. Mr Cannonier stressed that no agreements were signed in London and his Government will not do anything to jeopardize Bermuda’s financial model or previous agreements the Island has signed. Mr Richards said there was a “groundswell” of opinion against offshore financial centres in London driven by a number of factors. “First of all the US is coming out of a recession, Europe and the UK are not. Unemployment remains very high in the UK. Budget deficits are ballooning. So it's a very difficult and negative environment over there. The Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies were to some extent being used as scapegoats and distractions for domestic policy failures. In addition, there was a corps of non-Governmental organizations who had latched on to this notion that either multinational organizations or so-called tax havens are responsible for these poor countries not having any money. I was very surprised at the virulence of that sentiment that exists over there right now. Our message is to a significant extent being overwhelmed by that noise. Therefore we have to up our game.” Mr Richards said that Bermuda had been more successful with its public relations in the US than in the UK. “We just kind of assumed that because we have this relationship with Britain and we have these representatives in our midst at all times at a most senior level that somehow there’s an understanding over there of what Bermuda is all about. And I was surprised and dismayed to find out that that was not true. They don’t understand what Bermuda is all about. They continue to lump us in with other jurisdictions that are engaged in offshore banking that have secrecy laws, that are engaged in money laundering. These are things that Bermuda is not involved in.” The Bermuda delegation had stressed to Mr Cameron that Bermuda and the other OTs had not been given a “fair opportunity” to examine the multilateral agreement that he wanted signed. “It is important that you understand that Bermuda has not signed any agreement,” the Premier said. “We need to be responsible, and in being responsible we must look at every ‘T’ and make sure that it is crossed and every ‘I’ to make sure it is dotted. Because we do not want to put in jeopardy the financial model we have in Bermuda.” The Premier said "Bermuda had no problem with sharing tax information and providing information about beneficial ownership of companies domiciled here, and had been doing so for many years. When it comes to the highest regulations, Bermuda has always been [among] the forerunners." But Mr Cannonier stressed that Bermuda’s model was not banking, but insurance. “It is the businesses that are domiciled here that pay out in billions of dollars to ensure that many of the places like the UK and the United States can get back up running again and can create jobs and sustain jobs and put them back in the positions they were in before these things (catastrophes) happen. There is a great misunderstanding about what it is that we do. So we will continue to ensure that we get the message out there.” No other territories had signed the multilateral agreement, he said. Asked if the UK Government accepted Bermuda’s request for more time, he said: “They have to.” But the Premier stressed that a signing ceremony had never been on the agenda. “Sovereign nations like the United States and Canada are still coming to terms with this global agreement, so it’s going to be a while before we all come to a consensus as to exactly the direction we want to go in. They also are looking at this very closely and they are being responsible as well. So as we move toward tightening up the net of illegal activity I’m sure that some agreements will be found, but right now we are not at that position.” Asked about the efforts of companies like Google to avoid paying millions of dollars in taxes using vehicles domiciled here and in other countries, Mr Cannonier said Ireland’s double tax treaty was a key factor in enabling Google’s tax avoidance. “Bermuda is down the chain. So if you want to avoid this thing happening, the UK, the G8 nations really need to go to Ireland and the likes and address them first.” Mr Cannonier added that misrepresentation of Bermuda in UK media stories will end with better public relations.

June 18, 2013. Premier Craig Cannonier is to report on Bermuda’s attendance at the London tax evasion summit this afternoon. Mr Cannonier was joined by Finance Minister Bob Richards and technical officers for the meetings with British Primer Minister David Cameron and political leaders of other British colonies. Mr Cameron invited senior ministers of ten Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to meet with him last week ahead of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland which begins today. The British Prime Minister has been urging the colonies to commit to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax Matters — a global standard on exchange of information for tax purposes. Mr Cannonier said he viewed the meetings in London as an opportunity to state Bermuda’s case that the Island is not a “tax haven” and is well regulated. But there has been some confusion in the international media about Bermuda’s attitude towards the Convention. Mr Cannonier returned to the Island last night and is scheduled to speak to the media this afternoon.

June 13, 2013. Bermuda supports an international agreement aimed at tackling tax evasion “in principle”, Premier Craig Cannonier said yesterday. “Bermuda welcomes the initiative to conclude a Multilateral Convention Agreement in principle and supports the principles of transparency and exchange of information that the Convention embodies,” the Premier said in a statement. “However, legitimate reservations exist that must be addressed relating to costs, security of data, treaty duplication prior to signing the document. Bermuda is currently in talks with HM Treasury, in full anticipation that the issues will be ironed out as quickly as possible.” Mr Cannonier was commenting after speaking to international media this week on Bermuda’s strategy relating to international tax and regulatory policy. The headline in the Guardian yesterday said: “Bermuda refuses to sign up to Cameron's tax evasion deal” and “David Cameron's G8 agenda to close down cross-border tax evasion dealt blow by Bermuda prime minister Craig Cannonier”. Mr Cannonier said in his statement yesterday: “Bermuda has always been a reputable and internationally responsible jurisdiction. Our main industry is Reinsurance and Insurance and our consumption tax regime dates back to the 1800s, a century before Bermuda became an international financial centre. “For example, 60% to 65% of all our financial activity in Bermuda is in insurance assets covering risks with trading partners, such as in the UK, where Bermuda has a direct and significant role in its economy, producing as many as 100,000 jobs. Bermuda also writes 27% of all European reinsurance, including 40% of all Lloyds Reinsurance.” Premier Cannonier continued: “Originally Bermuda focused its Tax Treaty strategy around members of the G8, G20, EU, and OECD countries and as a result Bermuda has signed 39 Tax Information Exchange Agreements. To date, Bermuda has signed Tax Agreements with 90% of the G20, with the exception of two countries (the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Russian Federation). Bermuda has tax agreements with 52% of EU member states but we have concluded negotiations with many more EU members. Bermuda also has tax agreements with 76% of OECD member states. We look forward to our discussions with Prime Minister Cameron on these matters.” Earlier Reuters reported the Premier said in an interview that Bermuda and Britain's other overseas territories will not sign up to an international convention aimed at tackling tax evasion ahead of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland next week. But Bermuda could tighten rules so that Bermuda-registered subsidiaries needed to have more economic substance on the Island to enjoy its tax benefits, he told Reuters in the interview yesterday. And the Guardian newspaper reported Mr Cannonier said the territories were ready to agree that wider sharing of information with international tax authorities was required in principle, but that Mr Cameron's aim of having them all commit to signing the convention at the weekend was unlikely to be achieved. A spokesman for the Cayman Islands government said it had agreed on Friday to commit to an intention to sign the convention. No 10 said it expected most of the overseas territories and crown dependencies will sign up. But the group Cayman Finance said the devil was in the detail and that they “are not prepared to build a tax authority or a collection agency or incur huge costs to collect other people’s taxes”. Premier Cannonier told Reuters the Prime Minister’s aim of having the territories all commit to signing the convention at the weekend was unlikely. "My understanding is that we are not here to sign something, but simply to agree that everyone needs to get on par," he told Reuters in the telephone interview. British Prime Minister David Cameron has invited the mainly Caribbean territories to London ahead of hosting the annual gathering of the G8 group of leading economies, at which he has put tax avoidance and evasion high on the agenda. Though they share Britain's monarch as head of state, the UK government's writ doesn't run in the self-governing territories, so Cameron must rely on persuasion to secure an agreement. A deal could give Cameron a coup against tax campaigners who question Britain's commitment to the issue, given the prominent role played by UK territories in facilitating tax evasion, avoidance and the hiding of stolen assets, Reuters reported. Mr Cannonier said the territories had held conference calls ahead of their meeting with UK ministers in London this week and none had expressed a willingness to commit to signing the convention when they gather with Cameron at Downing Street on Saturday. Mr Cannonier said Bermuda already met most of the standards in the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, including having a register of beneficial owners of companies that other tax authorities can check. However, he said the convention, drafted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a body of mainly rich nations, had potentially damaging elements for Bermuda. "There's some clauses in there that we need to look at, that may need to be adjusted, and ... our Finance Ministry is going over it with a fine-tooth comb," he said. In May, the territories, which also include the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands, agreed to share taxpayer information with the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, but the convention will include many more countries and more information. “Bermuda has been accused of facilitating tax avoidance by large companies,” the Reuters report said. “Multinationals typically park intellectual property (IP) in letter-box companies on the island. These then charge fat fees for the use of the IP to affiliates in countries where the groups have big sales, thereby channelling profits to the island, which charges no corporate income taxes. Premier Cannonier said it was unfair to blame Bermuda for this since it was ‘only one link in the chain’ but added the country could tighten rules so that Bermuda-registered subsidiaries needed to have more economic substance on the Island to enjoy its tax benefits.”

May 22, 2013. Premier Craig Cannonier responded to British warnings to its overseas territories on tax avoidance and tax transparency. “Prime Minister (David) Cameron is keen to underscore Britain's position on fighting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance through tax information exchange and access to information on beneficial ownership of companies. Bermuda has no qualms with this. We are already there and we continue to keep abreast of developing standards. The combined work of the Ministry of Finance and the Bermuda Monetary Authority over several decades now has put Bermuda among the leading countries in relation to tax information exchange and KYC or "know your customer", which includes having access to information on beneficial ownership companies. As you know, Bermuda for decades has required companies seeking to incorporate in Bermuda to file beneficial ownership information with the Bermuda Monetary Authority; many of our peer jurisdictions have not caught up in this area. Further, we have recently passed legislation to license all Corporate Service Providers (CSPs) in Bermuda and bring them under the umbrella of the Proceeds of Crime Act that imposes the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) standard on beneficial ownership. Bermuda is recognised internationally for its integrity and transparency as a centre for legitimate international business. Our job now is to grow the economy again, create jobs and new wealth for Bermudians. That is our priority.” Mr Cameron wrote to the Island this week, along with the rest of Britain’s Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies: “This is the critical moment to get our own houses in order.” The letter, which didn’t specifically single out by name any of the 10 territories to which it was addressed, emphasized Mr Cameron’s respect for their right to be “lower tax jurisdictions." Britain is under pressure on the issue as it hosts the G8 Summit on June 15.

May 21, 2013.  Bermuda and other British territories have come under pressure from UK Prime Minister David Cameron to “take the lead” on tax information exchange and beneficial ownership. Mr Cameron wrote yesterday to the Island, along with the rest of Britain’s Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies such as Guernsey and the Isle of Man. The call for continued partnership with the UK came just weeks before Britain hosts the G8 Summit on June 15. With tax avoidance a priority for the gathering, Mr Cameron wrote, “this is the critical moment to get our own houses in order.” Last month’s visit by UK Minister for the Overseas Territories Mark Simmons saw Cabinet vow that Bermuda would “lead jurisdictions” in transparency, and enforcing beneficial ownership regulations. Mr Cameron’s letter underscored the point, however — especially on the latter. Noting that some jurisdictions had committed to producing action plans on beneficial ownership, the Prime Minister added: “I hope those of you who have yet to can do so as quickly as possible”. The letter, which didn’t specifically single out by name any of the 10 territories to which it was addressed, emphasized Mr Cameron’s respect for their right to be “lower tax jurisdictions.” Bermuda has already pledged to provide the UK authorities with tax information automatically. “There is a critical mass building,” Mr Cameron wrote, saying Britain aimed to set “a global standard in tax transparency.”

May 3, 2013. Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and other British overseas territories will now be required to work with the UK and other European countries fight tax evasion. With governments in most advanced economies short of tax revenue after the financial crisis, pressure has been growing on small territories with big banking sectors to lift bank secrecy and do more to combat tax dodging and money laundering. Now British overseas territories such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands — which are effectively colonies with some self-government — will have to automatically provide details the ownership of bank accounts, and about how they are used, British finance minister George Osborne said yesterday. "This represents a significant step forward in tackling illicit finance and sets the global standard in the fight against tax evasion," Mr Osborne said. The other territories affected by the deal are the Caribbean islands of Anguilla, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos. The information will be shared by Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, which agreed in June last year to work together to combat tax evasion. The Isle of Man also will be subject to the deal, but two other major offshore centres, Jersey and Guernsey, have not yet agreed to share information with countries other than Britain. The United States has been in a lengthy dispute with Switzerland over the latter's bank secrecy rules, while the European Union also has turned up pressure on two of its smaller members, Austria and Luxembourg. Austria in turn has accused Britain and the United States of shielding their own tax havens. Britain has made fighting tax evasion a priority while it chairs the G8 group of advanced economies this year, and in two weeks it will host a meeting of finance ministers from the bloc. However, Britain also faces problems of its own in being certain that companies comply with its tax laws. A recent Reuters investigation highlighted inconsistencies in the way Google portrays its activities in Britain, prompting lawmakers to demand the company's executives and auditors appear before them.

April 27, 2013. United Kingdom Overseas Territories Minister Mark Simmonds left Bermuda yesterday with a long list of areas of UK-Bermuda cooperation to develop but helping Bermuda out of the Uighur dilemma is not on the agenda. “That is a matter for the Bermuda Government. It is not a matter for the United Kingdom Government,” said Mr Simmonds when asked whether the Uighurs’ situation was any closer to resolution. I have had discussions to understand the complexity of some of these issues but it is a matter for the Bermuda Government.” Ablikim Turahun, Khalil Mamut, Abdulla Abdulqadir and Salahidin Andulahad were part of a consignment of 17 Muslims from western China who were released by US authorities after being held unlawfully in Guant?amo Bay, Cuba as “enemy combatants”. But the four were left stateless after they were brought to the Island under a deal arranged by then-Premier Dr Ewart Brown Lawyer Richard Horseman, who has been representing the four men since their arrival on the Island, was unsurprised by the stance. “That’s been the consistent position adopted by the UK Government — that it’s Bermuda’s problem, since they were brought here without consultation. Hopefully Britain will step in at some juncture to help the men.” Last month, Mr Horseman reported that Government would be holding talks with the US and the UK authorities. But it now appears that the UK, for the moment at least, is not minded to assist the Bermuda Government out of its dilemma. Granting the men status would require a change in the law and, says Mr Horseman, there is likely little appetite for that among the Island’s parliamentarians. Nor can they be granted refugee status because the Refugee Convention does not apply to Bermuda. The UK has always insisted that the men have no entitlement to British citizenship or British Overseas Territories citizenship, and are not eligible to apply for British passports. Mr Simmonds told the media that his visit had been productive and positive. “My primary function for being here is to build on the positive and warm relationship that Bermuda and the UK already have. To understand more about the opportunities and challenges that exist in Bermuda and to discuss with Ministers some of the opportunities that Bermuda and the UK have in working more closely together where appropriate and where it is of benefit to Bermuda. Areas of cooperation include trade, health, education and fighting gang crime."

April 25, 2013. Bermuda will provide United Kingdom authorities with information to help authorities there fight tax evasion and fraud, Bermuda’s Cabinet Office announced. The battle is a ‘global priority’, according to the Premier’s office. In support of this cause, it stated Bermuda has entered into “automatic exchange of information agreements” with the United Kingdom. The announcement was made on the heels of the arrival of the British Government Minister in charge of overseas territories, Mark Simmonds. “Tackling tax evasion and fraud is a global priority which is necessary to protect the integrity of public revenues, the confidence of taxpayers in the fairness and effectiveness of their tax systems and ultimately public confidence in open global capital markets,” it stated. Further action is needed to prevent tax evasion and to clamp down on it, despite the development of international standards and a peer review process, the Cabinet Office explained. “With this in mind, the next critical steps, aided by developments in technology, is to move to automatic exchange of tax information. The action taken by the United States under its Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) provides a unique opportunity to develop a new global standard in the near future and from that, to develop a system of multilateral automatic information exchange. Bermuda embraces the move, and has committed to entering into automatic exchange of information agreements with the United Kingdom to the same timetable as the agreements which we are currently finalizing with the United States.” Additionally, Bermuda has committed to move forward towards “eliminating any remaining hiding places” stating the island will improve the availability of information on beneficial ownership. "The work of the Global Forum and the Financial Action Task Force has led to significant improvements but gaps still remain in many jurisdictions. Bermuda is determined to move forward with this agenda and will commit to review the effectiveness of our legal and enforcement framework and to produce an action plan, aimed at ensuring that we lead jurisdictions in respect of information and enforcement of rules on beneficial ownership. We look forward to working in close cooperation with the United Kingdom on these commitments and urge rapid development of new global standards in these areas.

April 25, 2013. The UK’s Minister for Overseas Territories was on the Island for two days of meetings with officials. Mark Simmonds met Premier Craig Cannonier, Opposition Leader Marc Bean and other senior politicians and officials while here. The MP’s first fact-finding mission here also included talks with police to see how the Island is tackling gang crime, and he learnt more about international business and tourism on the Island. Mr Simmonds, who met with Mr Cannonier in London earlier this year, said: “I am looking forward to my visit to Bermuda this week. As my first visit, this will be an important opportunity to re-emphasize the strength of the UK’s relationship with the largest and most prosperous overseas territory. My visit comes at an important time for Bermuda, and the Overseas Territories as whole, and I look forward to discussing how we can take forward the government’s commitment to delivering the ambitious partnership agenda set out in last year’s White Paper.” Mr Simmonds will also meet members of Bermuda’s Youth Parliament to discuss the role of the UK in representing the Overseas Territories interests around the world.

February 3, 2013. Premier Cannonier takes over UK Overseas Territories Association presidency.  Bermuda has for the first time been elected to lead the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA) in the UK. During a meeting on Thursday, Bermuda, through representative Kimberly Durrant, was elected to the role of Chairman in the organization which was created to promote cooperation among the overseas territories. In accordance with the UKOTA Constitution Premier Craig Cannonier will assume the position as President of the Political Council. The latter is the highest body of the Association which consists of Leaders or Representatives of each Member Government. Revealing the news in a statement yesterday, the Premier said: “I am delighted with the regard in which Bermuda is held within UKOTA. There are many areas of mutual interest in which we can share knowledge and experience to our collective benefit. I look forward to my tenure as President of the Political Council and in particular how it seeks to shape the nature of engagement with the United Kingdom Government in matters of importance to the OTs.” Ms Durrant, the Director of the Island’s London Office, said the organization has always taken pride in giving all participating nation equal representation, regardless of size. “I am honored to have been elected to the position of Chairman and to have gained the respect and confidence of my fellow colleagues and Governments of the Overseas Territories,” she said.

December 24, 2012.  UK Overseas Territories Minister Mark Simmonds has congratulated Craig Cannonier for his appointment as Premier in the wake of last week’s general election. “I welcome the appointment of Premier Craig Cannonier, JP, MP, leader of One Bermuda Alliance. Bermuda is the oldest and most populous Overseas Territory with strong constitutional connections to the UK, going back 400 years,” Mr Simmonds said in a statement on Friday. “When I spoke to Premier Cannonier today (20 December) to congratulate him, I stressed that I look forward to working with the Premier and his Government on a wide range of issues highlighted in the UK’s White Paper on the Overseas Territories. I would also like to thank former Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox MP for the valuable contribution she made to Bermuda politics during her term in office, both domestically and internationally. I wish her every success for the future.” The UK’s White Paper on the Overseas Territories was released in June this year. It sets out three broad goals — to deepen engagement between the Territories and the UK, to help the Territories “strengthen good governance, financial management and economic planning” and “to improve the quality and range of support to the Territories”, according to former Overseas Territories Minister Henry Bellingham.

August 15, 2012.  Premier Paula Cox gave a mild rebuke last night to a British Member of Parliament who suggested if Bermuda wants the UK to keep providing its defence, it should change its tax policies to stop corporations using the Island to avoid UK taxes. Labour MP John Mann, a member of the UK House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, made the comment while talking about Google’s use of a Bermuda-based subsidiary to reduce its tax bill. Ms Cox, who is also the Finance Minister, responded that Bermuda had no wish to change its tax rules and told the opposition lawmaker that Bermuda “pays all its own bills”, including the one for Bermuda’s Governor, the UK’s top representative on the Island. The Independent newspaper reported that Google paid £6 million in UK taxes last year on turnover of ?395 million. The newspaper added that the tech giant operates a scheme under which its Irish subsidiary employs Google UK as an agent, meaning the proceeds of sales made in the UK end up in Ireland. A commission of around 10 percent is then paid back to Google UK. That fee is taxable once costs have been deducted. Google Ireland then pays much of the money it makes to the internet giant’s Bermudian entity as a licensing fee, ensuring that a large portion of its turnover ends up on the Island, where the corporate tax rate is zero. The process is entirely legal. “This sort of scheme is running, meanwhile we are providing a legal base and defence for Bermuda because it is a British dependency,” Mr Mann told The Independent. Firstly, we should be ensuring first of all that this is not possible across the EU. There is no point being in if you can tax dodge. Secondly, if Bermuda or any other British dependency wants our help with defence, then it should stop operating this sort of tax policy. We are paying twice because we are paying for Bermuda.” Mr Mann suggested the Bermuda Government should take a stronger stance on tax avoidance schemes which “hit British tax receipts”. The MP for Bassetlaw did not respond to The Royal Gazette's requests for further explanation of his remarks by press time yesterday. Last night Premier Cox responded: “We have no intention of changing our centuries-old tax laws which continue to serve the needs of our people. I would also take this opportunity to remind Mr Mann that Bermuda pays all of its own bills, including the bill for Bermuda’s Governor.” She added that Bermuda was an “international leader in tax transparency” and the vice-chair of the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. “The Bermuda Government will continue to stand strong for Bermudians and we will continue to work to attract new business to our shores that provide opportunities for our people,” Ms Cox added. “Bermuda is a global financial centre that offers speed to market, intellectual capital and an stable environment from which to operate a global business. Since the beginning of international business in Bermuda this has been our main drawing card.” Mr Mann is determined to shine the light on the methods used by Google to minimize its tax burden. He said the Treasury Select Committee may call on Google bosses to appear before it, to address the tax avoidance concerns. He described the company’s tax practices as “entirely improper and immoral. I think it would be highly appropriate to pull a Google executive in front of the committee to justify their failure to pay proper taxes, we would be looking at covering the issue in this parliamentary session, so before Easter, realistically,” he told The Independent. “Whether it is illegal or immoral, the British taxpayer loses out. Google is one of the big ones but there are others.” Google has no physical presence in Bermuda. However, a Bloomberg news report in 2010 highlighted company filings that stated Google Ireland Holdings had its “effective centre of management” on the Island. The report added that “this Bermuda-managed entity is owned by a pair of Google subsidiaries that list as their directors two attorneys and a manager at Conyers Dill & Pearman, a Hamilton, Bermuda law firm.” Many international companies use “transfer pricing” to attribute profits to subsidiaries in low-tax jurisdictions. This often involves transferring the ownership of intellectual property to the subsidiary. Other parts of the organization must then pay royalties on sales to the subsidiary through licensing agreements. The practice is particularly commonplace among technology and pharmaceutical companies. A Google spokesman told The Independent: “We make a substantial contribution to the UK economy through local, payroll and corporate taxes. We also employ over 1,000 people, help hundreds of thousands of businesses to grow online and invest millions supporting new tech businesses in East London. We comply with all the tax rules in the UK.”

July 13, 2012.  The British Government is continuing to work with Bermuda and the Sargasso Sea Alliance in an effort to create a high seas marine reserve. Henry Bellingham of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told the House of Commons that members of the Sargasso Sea Alliance have met with officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Transport to discuss the project. “As a result of this meeting, officials of the Department for Transport and its Maritime and Coastguard Agency are engaged in discussions with the Sargasso Sea Alliance with a view to identifying a measure or measures which would be appropriate to take forward in the International Maritime Organization. In addition, the Government supports the work of the OSPAR Commission, under which seven Marine Protected Areas in areas beyond national jurisdiction have been identified, in assisting the Alliance with its proposals. The Government of Bermuda supports the proposal to provide appropriate protection for the Sargasso Sea. The British Government, the Sargasso Sea Alliance and the Government of Bermuda are working together to this end through the appropriate forums.” He further acknowledged that the current system in place for identify marine protected areas on the high seas is “piecemeal, and that the British Government is committed to establish a new Implementing Agreement to address the issue. The Sargasso Sea is more than 1,000km wide and 3,200km long and is bordered by four separate ocean currents; the Gulf Stream, the North Atlantic Current, the Canary Current and the North Atlantic Equatorial Current. The region is also rich with marine life, and is considered a crucial spawning area for species including eel, dolphin fish and marlin.

May 18, 2012. Britain will not urge Bermuda to go Independent because that would be patronizing, according to outgoing Governor Sir Richard Gozney. And in one of his final interviews before ending his diplomatic career, the Governor warned Bermuda not to get complacent about the economy. The wide ranging discussion had its lighter moments. Sir Richard admitted, almost, that he wasn’t exactly fond of wearing the ceremonial garb of a colonial Governor. “You feel you’re going to take off in a strong wind,” he said when asked what it was like wearing a feathered hat. His predecessor, Sir John Vereker, had discussed with then Premier Ewart Brown, the possibility of ditching the uniform as he ended his tenure. But Dr Brown had gone to his Cabinet and insisted it should be worn. “I’m a servant of Bermuda. Bermuda’s paying not only my salary and for this house and I’ll go along,” Sir Richard said. Asked if he liked wearing the uniform, he said: “‘Like’s’ quite a strong word, isn’t it? I’m content wearing that uniform if Bermuda wants me to wear it.” Sir John took his plumed hat and ceremonial uniform with him when he left. Sir Richard was issued a new one. He agreed that being a Governor of one of the world’s last remaining colonies felt a bit odd. “It’s bound to. In the 21st Century. No one’s holding onto bits of Overseas Territories because they want to. At least I hope they aren’t in this day and age. But we, unlike one or two other European countries, are not going to shed them if they don’t want to leave the fold. The Portuguese shoved theirs off when the dictator Salazar died in the mid-seventies and poor Mozambique, poor Angola and poor East Timor went into civil war — each of them as a result. So we will say, those territories are small and for reasons of small size and for whatever other reasons, if and for as long as they want to retain the British link then we will do our bit to maintain it. It costs next to nothing. And it’s a legacy of history. It’s a responsibility of history and we accept it. We’ll do it wholeheartedly. We won’t be curmudgeonly or graceless about it.” He repeated Whitehall’s long held policy to support the wishes of Bermudians should a majority signal clearly that they want to became a sovereign nation. “But we’re not going to force that issue either way. Because we don’t think that’s a grown up way of dealing with a very grown up situation,” he said. “Bermuda is a fully grown up country which can decide for itself how it wants that future to be. And so, in the meantime — of course, it’s an unusual position to have an overseas territory or colony. But we accept that we will do our small part in making those small territories run for as long as people want the status quo to continue.” He said self determination “can include a determination to keep yourself in the fold of a bigger country — or linked to a bigger country.” Asked why Britain does not simply tell Bermuda that it is old enough to take the sovereignty option, he said: “Because that would be patronizing. “We won’t patronize Bermuda. We’ll say ‘Bermuda, you’re grown up. You take that decision’. All we’ll ask is if you decide to go independent, we’ll need an unambiguous signal that that is the case.” The arrival of the four Uighurs — the former Guantanamo detainees who were brought to Bermuda by former Premier Ewart Brown without consulting Britain or his Cabinet — was the most challenging aspect of his tenure as Governor, he said. “It made me scratch my head more than other things,” he said. “Because of that double effect of breaching the Constitution and landing four men here who can’t be given travel documents to go elsewhere.” Britain and the US are still in talks over the fate of the Uighurs, he said. Turning to his most enjoyable experience he said: “It’s hard to beat non-mariners. It is quite a magic afternoon.” On his final message to Bermuda, he said: “I wish Bermuda every success in finding the next pot of gold. Whether it’s going to be fish farming — the Chinese in those fancy restaurants in Shanghai and Hong Kong would pay ridiculous sums of money for what they regard as really special fish — I’m sure those fish would grow in netted tanks out on the reefs somewhere. Or whether it’s the mineralisation of the sea bed around here. There’s no oil but people have been down and found some quite interesting mineralisation. Financial services are not growing but they’re not shrinking much. And tourism is strongly cyclical but may be coming back a bit. So, I’m not saying that people need to find the next crock of gold within the next year or two years. But the fragility and vulnerability of small countries is essentially based on just a couple of industries and that’s the case in Bermuda. So one’s always on the look out for the next serious piece of diversification.” Asked if he agreed with those who feel that the economy may be on a permanent decline, he said he did not think that was likely “as long as people are not complacent. Economies have tired because of complacency. That didn’t hack it in the 19th century, the 20th century and it certainly won’t work in the 21st century. Because someone’s going to come up and snap your ankles and take whatever business away from you. Because there are a lot of countries which are far more worldly than they used to be and most of the markets — whether they are for tourism or financial services, almost everything else other than oil and gas in the ground — are mobile. So as long as people here, as in other such well-to-do small countries, don’t rest on their laurels I see no reason why Bermuda shouldn’t thrive.” Richard Gozney leaves for his homeland on Sunday. The new Governor, George Fergusson, is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday.

February 1, 2012. Then Bermuda Premier Paula Cox pushed for Bermuda to have direct formal links with the European Union through membership in the Overseas Countries and Territories Association. The OCTA brings together about two dozen territories with links to the United Kingdom, Holland, France and Denmark and is governed by EU regulations known as Overseas Association Decisions. Bermuda’s inclusion could come as early as July when the current OAD is updated. The overall purpose of the current association is to promote OCTs’ economic and social development and to develop economic relations between the OTCs and the EU. Members pay a fee to be included and are bound by basic principles such as democracy and human rights. In 2001, Bermuda turned down an invitation to be included in the arrangement because its original purpose was to give the territories access to developmental aid, according to a press release issued by Government yesterday. But the Association has now “furthered its remit” and is acknowledged as a means for the OCTs to “heighten their presence within the EU.” Premier Cox raised the issue of Bermuda’s membership in Brussels last week at a meeting between the EU and the OCTs. “I consider that deepening our engagement with the European Union was of national strategic advantage. There is also the potential for collateral benefits by a closer collaboration, including the possibility of technical and functional assistance in fostering environmental initiatives and support of sustainable development projects. I am pleased that Bermuda was able to participate in the constructive dialogue and this is consistent with furthering Bermuda’s national agenda.” Bermuda had been invited to the tenth OCT-EU Forum as an observer. And the Premier’s overture comes in time for a review of the OAD which is scheduled for July this year. “As the revised OAD’s submission to the EU Council is in July 2012, the inclusion of Bermuda would award us the opportunity for increased visibility within the EU,” states the Government release. “Through the London Office, consistent representation within OCTA will be essential to maintaining constant dialogue with the EU and uphold Bermuda’s interest and presence within Europe.” According to the press release, the OCTs pressed the European Commission to “support the awareness of OCTs within European institutions on issues such as Environment and Climate Change; Trade; Rights of OCT Citizens; Partnership with the EU; Territorial Strategies for Innovation and Regional Projects and Equal Treatment for all OCTs.” Kimberley Durrant, office manager of Bermuda’s London office said yesterday that the OCTA planned to open an office in Brussels and all OCTA members will have access to its resources “and that of the EU.”

January 2012. British MP Andrew Rosindell called for Bermuda and other overseas territories to be given representation in the UK House of Commons. In a submission to the UK Parliament’s Backbench Business Committee, Mr. Rosindell said that since the UK makes decisions that can directly effect territories such as Bermuda, the territories should be able to have their own voices heard. Mr Rosindell, the chairman of the British Overseas Territories All Party Parliamentary Group, said: “We give our 21 territories nothing. All they have is an informal all-party group, of which I am proud to be chairman. We have a democratic hole, with hundreds of thousands of people for whom we make laws, whom we ultimately govern and on whose behalf we can declare war, make foreign policy and sign international treaties. We have substantial control over their domestic affairs. Those territories that have sterling are bound by much of our own economic policy. In a range of areas, although the Crown dependencies and Overseas Territories are not part of the UK they are substantially influenced and ultimately governed by this Parliament, so it is wrong for them to have no voice at all.” The Conservative Party MP said other nations, including Australia, Denmark, France and the Netherlands all have external territories, but those territories have representatives elected to external territory committees. He said he hoped issues related to the overseas territories would be debated this year, noting that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands. “Perhaps it is an appropriate time to establish the principle that at the very least the UK Parliament gives recognition to our Territories and Dependencies, and that we actually want to debate subjects that affect them, so that is why I have put in for this debate,” he said. “I have been an MP for 11 years and I do not think there has been an actual debate on territories and dependencies, except when the British Overseas Territories Bill was introduced by the previous Government in 2001-02. There needs to be a similar kind of annual debate such as we have on Scotland and Wales. Our 21 territories deserve to be given that kind of recognition, and I hope the Committee will give that due consideration.” In a recent Government submission to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for a new White Paper on the Overseas Territories, the Bermuda Government called for a greater voice in the UK Parliament on issues affecting the Island. A section of the submissions read: “This could be done by serving on Parliamentary Committees, for example, where matters affecting Bermuda’s national interest are discussed.” Mr Rosindell visited the Island last year as part of a three-day fact finding mission, during which he met with Premier Paula Cox. He later told The Royal Gazette they had a frank exchange of views about the relationship between the UK and Bermuda. He also described Premier Cox as being “cynical” about the British Government’s desire for closer links, comments that National Security Minister David Burch said were disrespectful.

There are problems with Mr. Rosindell's call for Bermuda to be given representation in the UK House of Commons. Bermuda's laws don't comply with the UK's laws in many respects. Bermuda already has very substantial benefits in the UK that are not similarly afforded by the Bermuda House of Assembly to UK nationals living and working in Bermuda. Any proposed arrangements should be reciprocal. Some examples of this anomaly include that Bermudians can, if they wish, be given full UK citizenship and without any waiting period at all. But Bermuda treats all incoming UK nationals as foreigners, requiring them to have Work Permits which are usually for limited periods of no more than 6 years, and completely denying them local citizenship (Bermudian Status) unless they marry a Bermudian and stay married to and cohabiting with that spouse for at least 10 years. Some Brits have lived in Bermuda for decades without ever being allowed to vote. Only under special circumstances, if they are allowed to live that long in Bermuda, do they become entitled to Permanent Residence (similar to a US Green Card) which is not citizenship and does not allow them to vote or own any home that a Bermudian can own. In contrast, in the UK, it is possible for a non-UK national to obtain citizenship in 5 years and if a UK national marries a non-national, that latter spouse can obtain citizenship in 3 years. In the UK any non-national and his/her spouse can buy any home without prejudice but in Bermuda all non-Bermudians including all Brits may only buy one 10% most expensive in property value or tax band home. Only in Bermuda, nowhere else in the British or British Commonwealth of Nations world, are British subject non-Bermudians told they may not be a joint home owner without an expensive special licence. In the UK, full British citizens do not lose voting rights after 6 months or more of absence, only after 15 or more years. But in Bermuda they do. Brits in Bermuda, even those born in Bermuda but with both parents not Bermudian, are deprived of citizenship. nIn the UK, Bermudians are treated as UK nationals in university fees. But British non-Bermudians in Bermuda pay full whack to attend Bermuda's community college. In the UK, conscription ended in the 1950s. But in Bermuda, young men - not young women - born in Bermuda and are Bermudian are severely punished if they evade Bermuda's archaic conscription laws. In other respects too, Bermuda's laws are far below the UK's laws as they relate to old age pensioners (senior citizens in Bermuda) not being eligible in Bermuda for free National Health Service-equivalent hospital, medical  and prescription coverage, seniors needing new car licenses after 65 (in the UK it is 70) and the severely disabled not having access in Bermuda to any of the UK's benefits awarded to the deserving disabled without any means testing. To allow Bermuda, with its present laws that conflict with those of the UK, to be part of the UK process would be a miscarriage of justice. Bermuda's laws must be amended first.

January 6, 2012. United Kingdom and its colonies have entered a new era with Whitehall seeking to “change the model short of self determination”, Premier Paula Cox said yesterday. But Government’s submission to the UK on relationships with the Overseas Territories contains a question about full sovereignty. “If Bermuda became independent, would the UK undertake not to revoke British passports held by Bermudians?” asks point 45 of the 53 point submission. At a media briefing to discuss Government’s submission on the Overseas Territories relationship with the UK, the Premier waxed positive about what she said was an improving relationship between the OTs and the UK Government. “What you’ve seen by the coalition government is very much what you hear from President (Barack) Obama. He talks about the era of engagement,” Premier Cox said. “And it’s an interesting turning on its heels what has been the relationship even under a Labour government. Here you have a coalition government which seems to have a very high level of interest in trying to actually talk to the Overseas Territories in a way that conveys and suggests a real interest in trying to change the model short of self determination.” The Premier explained that meetings with the British Government had demonstrated a “real interest in trying to show that we can have a relationship that doesn’t have to be them and us. So this is part of that continuing conversation.” But while Government’s submission pushes for more autonomy, a central bank and representation in global organizations almost like an independent country it is also seeking benefits from the UK in terms of technical assistance and functional cooperation. “The current position is that we are an Overseas Territory and as such there is an administering power and the administering power is the UK,” the Premier said. “In the confines of being a colony then certainly we are indicating there are areas where there can be assistance to provide and we’re certainly not asking for funding assistance. And that is the nature of the special relationship that the people of Bermuda at this time have opted to be in.” She said that while she was Leader of a party that supported Independence for Bermuda, she was “very clear” that the Island is an Overseas Territory of Britain. “But that (Independence) is not yet the position that the people of Bermuda are in.” And she noted that Bermuda enjoyed a “much more mature and developed constitution” than the other OTs, some of which have the Governor sitting in Cabinet and having the final say on key posts and Cabinet decisions. The Premier explained: "Bermuda is often asked to take the lead in meetings between the colonies and the UK as it is seen as different and “more immune from any sort of retaliatory action or any sort of punitive action. It doesn’t change the fact that we are still an Overseas Territory but we do have a more developed constitution.” The submission’s only direct reference to a sovereign Bermuda is the question on whether the UK would give an undertaking not to revoke British passports held by Bermudians in an independent Bermuda. The Premier was asked whether there had been any other instances in which the scenario of Independence had been raised. “Independence is a separate issue and on Independence the government does not operate by stealth. So to be honest, we don’t have the legitimate authority to try and take Bermuda Independent without the people’s buy-in.” After the briefing this newspaper posed a few follow up questions by e-mail, including one seeking the rationale for including the question referencing a sovereign Bermuda. But Acting Director of the Department of Communication and Information Dwayne Caines said there would be no further comment “at this time.” The Premier did elaborate on the rationale for seeking a Central Bank for Bermuda during the briefing. Currently, she said, the lender of last resort is the Government of Bermuda. “That’s why when we had a situation with one of our local financing institutions we had the government give that $200 million guarantee.  I think that every country is looking at where they can be more protectionist of their taxpayer and also not being held accountable for the faults or the excesses of others. For Bermuda it’s a coming of age to at least have those discussions. And also look at what are our options. It could be in Europe, it could be in the US but it is a reserve, separate, over and above of what we have.” 

January 6, 2012. Premier Paula Cox spoke with the media during a round table discussion on the Overseas Territories white paper yesterday. In her Bermuda's submission on the British Overseas Territories she stated a list of What We Want issues. They include: 

On the National Security Council

Addressing the Key Challenges Facing Bermuda Economy

September 27, 2011. Bermuda stands to play a central role in defining the future relationship between the UK and its overseas territories, according to Overseas Territories Minister Henry Bellingham. In a speech before a packed hall at the Bermuda College, Mr Bellingham praised the Island as “a sophisticated and high-quality business and tourist destination with a highly developed government system.” He commended Premier Paula Cox’s “recent initiatives to strengthen governance mechanisms.” Mr Bellingham then touched on the UK’s governance issues with another of its 14 former colonies. He said: “The situation we are now handling in the Turks and Caicos Islands is one that we do not want to see repeated in other Territories, and we will be seeking, through this strategy and other mechanisms, to ensure that we do not.” The Minister’s audience, Governor Sir Richard Gozney noted, included “more former Premiers than I have seen in one place”: David Saul, Alex Scott and Sir John Swan attended, along with Premier Paula Cox, numerous members of her Cabinet, US Consul General Grace Shelton, Director of Public Prosecutions Rory Fields, and Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling. Mr Bellingham’s visit to Bermuda, his first, is intended to give an overview of the Island’s economy and political system, as well as to “launch a dialogue” in advance of next year’s White Paper by the UK Government on its Overseas Territories. Mr Bellingham said: “We believe that at this point in the history of our relationships with the Territories, when a decade of constitutional revision is coming to a close, the time is not right to embark on further constitutional change.  Rather, our strategy is to make sure the constitutional arrangements work properly to promote the best interests of the Territories and of the UK, both now and in the future.” He reiterated the British Government’s stance on independence, which is for Territories themselves to decide, on the basis of “the clearly expressed wish of the majority.” Mr Bellingham’s speech underlined the UK’s wish for “good governance, public financial management and economic planning” in its Territories. He invited feedback from “as many people in the Territories as possible”, including through an online portal. The Minister then fielded questions from his audience. Former Senator Walton Brown, Jr said the UK’s previous White Paper, in 1999, was “neither progressive, nor a partnership” with the Territories. Referring to Article 73 of the United Nations charter, which he said obliged Britain to move its Overseas Territories toward self-government, Mr Brown asked for the Minister’s comment. Mr Bellingham said that the UK “will not interfere in that decision-making process”, adding: “It’s a decision for the people of Bermuda.” PLP Senator LaVerne Furbert asked: “We hear often in Bermuda, and particularly of people in the Opposition, being concerned about the way Government is handling finances, and that there is a need for a commission of inquiry to look into the way the Bermuda Government is handling finances. Is there a need?” Mr Bellingham replied that the Bermuda Government does not need permission from the UK government to borrow on the international market. He said that in discussions with the Premier, they had talked about economic challenges, her plans for lowering Bermuda’s deficit and national debt, and called Bermuda’s debt “still healthier than the UK’s.” Mr Bellingham warned Bermuda not to be complacent about the future of its financial services industry and to diversify its economy, finishing: “The UK will not order Bermuda what to do.” Former Premier Sir John Swan said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office currently represented Bermuda’s interests abroad. “I have yet to believe to the process has been as energetic and as forthcoming as it should be,” he said. Sir John said that as other world governments “retrench themselves and seek new means of revenue”, they might encroach on Bermuda’s economic well-being, and asked if the UK would “reach beyond the reach” to defend Bermuda’s interests. “I can give you 100 percent assurance,” Mr Bellingham answered. Noting that in the European Union and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, there were “interests that are jealous” of the Territories, Mr Bellingham said: “I don’t call them tax havens. They are world-class offshore centers.” He said it was important for Bermuda represent its interests in the European Union, the Commonwealth and other international organizations. A member of the audience, Joshua Butler, jumped up to speak as Mr Bellingham was leaving the room, but was cut off by the Governor. “He told Senator Furbert we are okay, and we’re not okay,” Mr Butler charged. Sir Richard said the Minister’s schedule did not allow for extra time to speak. Mr Bellingham’s visit included meeting today with Bermuda’s Olympic athletes, who will compete in London next year.

September 26, 2011. British Overseas Territories minister Henry Bellingham, Member of Parliament for North West Norfolk, Conservative, visited Bermuda, in his capacity as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. His ministerial briefs include United Nations, Africa, Overseas Territories. He has been the Member of Parliament for North West Norfolk since 2001, having also represented the same constituency from 1983 to 1997.  He was born in March 1955. He studied Law at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Having graduated in 1977 he was called to the Bar (Middle Temple) where he served as a barrister for 8 years. He stated Bermuda could be in line to benefit from charity cash generated by the UK Lottery.  He told a press conference at Bermuda's Government House it seemed “quite wrong and anomalous” for Britain’s 14 Overseas Territories not to enjoy the fruits of the National Lottery. “It raises a vast amount of money and pays out billions of pounds but it’s not allowed to dispense money for good causes in the Overseas Territories,” he said. “I find that extraordinary. Ninety five percent of Britain’s biodiversity is in the Overseas Territories.” Apart from Bermuda, the other territories are Anguilla, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Island, St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, sovereign base areas on Cyprus, and Turks and Caicos. Mr Bellingham said there was a “complete illogicality” about not having the money available for the “280,000-odd” citizens of the territories and that it seemed “grossly unfair” to withhold it from those with British passports who wish to retain links with the UK. “It seems to me quite wrong and anomalous that they can’t enjoy the benefits of the lottery fund.” The Conservative MP said he planned to meet with the bodies responsible for dishing out lottery cash as a “priority”. The National Lottery has generated more than £26 billion for good causes in the UK, with the money going toward numerous sports, arts and heritage schemes, as well as health, education and environment charities. Mr Bellingham left Bermuda after a three-day visit during which he launched consultation on the UK Government’s new Overseas Territories White Paper, the first such report in a decade. He said the British Government wanted feedback from the citizens of all 14 territories for the White Paper, which will be released in 2012. The Minister described his trip here as having been “really excellent” and said he’d had a warm welcome from everyone, including Premier Paula Cox. He said Britain wanted to “reinvigorate” its relationship with the territories and make sure it was doing everything it should to support them. “We want to make sure that all the success and expertise in the UK ... can be harnessed in a way that can benefit the Overseas Territories. The UK Government does have important responsibilities. We want to carry out those responsibilities to the very best of our ability. Mr Bellingham fielded questions on a variety of issues at the press conference, including his discussions with Ms Cox this week and the four Uighurs brought here from Guantánamo Bay without Britain’s permission. He said he and the Premier talked about the gang warfare which has seen 16 men shot dead since May 2009 and suggested the situation had improved from a year ago. “I’m not saying it’s gone but it’s certainly a problem that the Government has taken action on,” he said. He revealed that his conversation with Ms Cox also focused on the Island’s financial situation, adding that he told her he would like to see Bermuda diversify its economy. “I think Bermuda could attract more IT businesses from around the world,” he said. “Renewable energy is also very important.” The Minister said the UK remained in talks with the US about the Uighurs, adding: “We are looking to the US State Department to find a permanent solution.” He was asked about Britain’s view of recent damning reports from the Auditor General on the spending of public funds. Mr Bellingham said while it was the responsibility of the UK Government to “keep an eye on what happens in territories” it wasn’t its role to put in place a fiscal responsibility framework for Bermuda. He said he’d met with the independent Auditor General and was impressed with her “absolute passion” for ensuring taxpayers get value for money. He added he expected her to continue working in a “rigorous” way. The Minister was asked about Bermuda’s policy of requiring British guest workers to obtain a work permit, though no such restrictions exist for Bermudians who go to live in the UK. He replied that Britain was a country of 65 million people, while Bermuda had a population of about 65,000. “One has to be realistic,” he said. “We are not comparing like with like and also I think that’s something for your Government to address.” Mr Bellingham added that he wanted to extend the right to work in Europe to holders of the “different categories of British passports.”

In February 2011 the British MP who helps oversee the British Overseas Territories arrived in Bermuda on Monday for a three day stay. Andrew Rosindell visited in his role as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the British Overseas Territories. He met Premier Paula Cox and other politicians, Chief Justice Richard Ground and Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews. He also visited the Bermuda Regiment, the Bermuda Police Service and Dellwood Middle School in Hamilton. Mr Rosindell, 44, is also chairman of the UK's Foreign Affairs Select Committee. His visit comes three years after that committee conducted an inquiry into the Overseas Territories. It made a series of recommendations for Bermuda including phasing out conscription to the Bermuda Regiment, reviewing voting rights for long-term residents, outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation and bringing in freedom of information legislation. The Bermuda Government is working on the issues of sexual orientation and freedom of information. However, controversy is ongoing over conscription and voting rights. Mr Rosindell is a Conservative party politician and represents Romford, in Essex, which is near London. His special political interests include the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, Foreign and Commonwealth affairs, animal welfare, European affairs, Constitutional affairs, law and order and defence. Before entering politics on a full-time basis he was a freelance journalist and public relations consultant. The British Broadcasting Corporation website says is known for being a right wing populist who is anti-Europe. 

From November 1, 2009 Bermudians were no longer be able to apply for full British passports in Bermuda and had to go through a Washington DC office. Only Bermuda government-issued British Overseas Territory not full UK citizen passports can be issued by Bermuda Immigration, see photo below. Those who wish to apply for a British citizen passport will not be able to fill out paperwork and drop it off at the Bermuda Government's Department of Immigration, as before. Bermuda's Department of Immigration will no longer accept applications for British citizen passports.  

Bermuda Dept of Immigration

Royal Gazette photo

Instead people wishing to apply for a full validity British citizen passport should do so by sending their applications by courier or registered post to the UK Passport Service Centre in Washington DC at the full address shown below. This is the new UK passport production centre for Bermuda.  These changes will not apply to those applying for or renewing British Overseas Territories Citizen Bermuda passports. Members of the public can use a courier company to send in their application for a full British citizen's passport A passport sent from Washington will arrive via UPS. The cost of the UK passport is presently $212 for adults for 32-pages or $255 for 48 pages (best for adult frequent travelers) and $135 for children under the age of 16, for the 32-page passport only. However an additional charge is made to cover the cost of returning it via UPS. Passports may take up to 10 weeks to arrive so applicants should plan accordingly. The mailing address for British Citizen Passport processing was: The UK Passport Service Centre for the Americas and Caribbean, British Embassy, 19 Observatory Circle, NW Washington, DC 20008, USA. British UK citizen passports are normally valid for 10 years from date of applicability but if you renew your passport within nine months of its expiry, the passport will be valid for ten years plus the nine months. Travelers are advised that some countries will not accept passports with less than months before expiry.

In June 2009, without the knowledge of Bermuda's Governor, or Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, but arranged in a sneaky and underhand way between Bermuda's Premier, The United States Consul General in Bermuda and the United States government, four Uighur men were released from US custody at Guantanamo Bay and were flown secretly to Bermuda. Tensions between Bermuda and Whitehall reached fever pitch with Governor Richard Gozney calling the move 'invalid' and 'unacceptable.' As a British Overseas Territory, Bermuda is obligated to consult Britain on matters of foreign affairs and security. Both the Bermuda Government and the United States Consul General in Bermuda and its Government deliberately failed to do this. Taking in the Uighur detainees, who were conditionally cleared of wrongdoing by the USA, thrust the tension between the two countries into the international media spotlight. The Uighurs are rightly banned from ever going back to the USA for having accepted training from al Qaeda and taken part in terrorism.

In March 2008 members of the UK's House of Commons multiparty Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) visited Bermuda. The FAC is appointed by the House of Commons and comprises 14 back bench Members of Parliament from Government and Opposition parties, and reflects the views of the membership of the House as a whole. The FAC's function is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) which includes the diplomatic service. FAC members were, at that time:

Member Constituency Party
Mike Gapes (Chairman) Ilford South Labour
Rt Hon Sir Menzies Campbell QC North East Fife Liberal Democrats
Mr Fabian Hamilton Leeds North East Labour
Rt Hon David Heathcoat-Amory Wells Conservative
Mr John Horam Orpington Conservative
Mr Eric Illsley Barnsley Central Labour
Mr Paul Keetch Hereford Liberal Democrats
Andrew Mackinlay Thurrock Labour
Mr Malcolm Moss North East Cambridgeshire Conservative
Sandra Osborne Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock Labour
Mr Greg Pope Hyndburn Labour
Mr Ken Purchase Wolverhampton North East Labour
Rt Hon Sir John Stanley Tonbridge and Malling Conservative
Ms Gisela Stuart Birmingham Edgbaston Labour

Following their visit they issued a report on lack of voting rights for long-term residents, many of whom were denied Bermuda Status while others were deemed under Bermuda law to no longer qualify - but those concerned would have with ease in any European country, Canada, USA, Australia, etc. 

The issue was raised in a number of jurisdictions and the FAC quoted submissions from several long term residents (LTRs) complaining about Bermuda's strict immigration laws. The report said: "We received many submissions about rights of non-Belongers. Of most concern was the lack of voting rights." It quoted Jonathan Suter, from Bermuda, who described the fact that Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) holders in Bermuda did not have the vote as an "absolute embarrassment" and called for the UK Government to advise Bermuda to extend the franchise. Mr Suter had argued that PRC holders already have the right to live and work in Bermuda, therefore giving them the right to vote does not put any further pressure on the housing market or lend itself to any of the rhetoric concerning foreigners 'taking away' jobs from Bermudians. Mr Suter wrote: "Therefore, the only significant impact would be that PRC holders would have the opportunity to participate in the democratic process. The current Government would argue that this would somehow dilute the voting right of Bermudians. Yet, looking at the numbers, the number of PRC holders is about five percent of the voting population or 2,000 out of 42,00. PRC holders should have the right to hold the government accountable. They are not simply guests on the islands, they have been contributing members of society for over 20 years!" Julian Griffiths, from Hamilton, claimed Bermuda's immigration laws were "racist" and discriminatory and questioned why the UK Government had permitted them to continue. As well as lack of voting rights, he pointed out that non-Belongers, some of whom had lived in Bermuda for more than 20 or even 30 years, were also not given equal treatment under the tax system, or equal rights of property or business ownership. He added: "Worse, all these rights are denied to children born in Bermuda after August 1989 if their parents are not Bermudian, even though they may have lived all their lives in Bermuda. By extension this situation could lead to stateless people in the next generation." Mr. R. David of Bermuda also highlighted the issue of lack of rights for children of non-Belongers in the Territory and argued that it effectively made some children "second class citizens in their own land of birth." He added: "Strangely this denial of basic human rights upon such individuals continues to be endorsed by the silence of the FCO on this matter." Susan Parsons, a former Bermuda resident now living in Canada, explained to the FAC the impact non-Belonger status had on her family. She wrote: "I am married to a Bermudian and have been for ten years we have two children together born in Bermuda who hold full status. I had three children from my previous marriage when we met, born to a UK status father. We have had to leave Bermuda as when my children turn 21 they could not apply for status. This would have left my family in a situation where three children would be ripped away from their family and siblings and expected to start a life alone elsewhere. After having been brought up and schooled in Bermuda for over ten years. Is this not a constitutional breach of our rights as a family?" In conclusion the FAC wrote: "We conclude that although extending voting rights to non-Belongers will be politically difficult for Overseas Territory governments, the Government should at least encourage local administrations to review this issue with regard to non-Belongers who have resided in an Overseas Territory for a reasonable period. We recommend that the Government should propose that non-Belongers' rights be an agenda item for the next OTCC." 

 They also recommended phasing out conscription and the outlawing of discrimination based on sexual orientation. The 171-page report on the Overseas Territories by the Foreign Affairs Committee went on to recommend that the UK Government encourage Bermuda to strengthen its transparency measures, including establishing an independent Electoral Commission and ending the practice of committees of the House of Assembly sitting in secret. And one passage of the report says: "We recommend that the Government sets out in its response to this report the steps it has taken to ensure that allegations of corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation, in the issuing of contracts, and of electoral fraud in Bermuda are properly investigated." The report noted submissions from Bermudians alleging Government improprieties, including claims that contracts were given to the party faithful, while Special Development Orders had not been handled in a transparent manner. And concerns were raised about the arrest of the Auditor General who was also thrown out of his office while he was off the Island. The MPs wrote: "During our visit to Bermuda, the Governor told us that his predecessor had objected strongly to the Bermuda government at the time." In a chapter on items relevant to Bermuda the team of MPs recommended that the UK Government take steps to ensure that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender status is made illegal in all Overseas Territories (OTs). While recognizing that extending voting rights to 'non-Belongers' will be politically difficult for OT governments, the UK Government was urged to at least encourage local administrations to review this issue with regard to non-Belongers who have resided in an Overseas Territory for a reasonable period. The FAC recommended Government should propose that non-Belongers' rights be an agenda item for the next Overseas Territories Consultative Council (OTCC). The Committee also wants the UK to urge the Bermuda government to move away from conscription and towards the Bermuda Regiment becoming a more professional organisation, with voluntary and paid elements. The UK MPs argued this could make serving in the Regiment more attractive, giving the staffing resources required to extend into maritime duties. The FAC recommends that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) should also strongly encourage all Overseas Territories which have not yet done so to introduce freedom of information legislation. The report said the FCO should review with Overseas Territories what steps they might take to improve their public accounting and auditing capability. And the FAC backed a recent report by fellow British MPs on the Public Accounts Committee's which recommended that the FCO should explore how Overseas Territories might make better use of UK expertise and that it should also explore whether those Territories with Public Accounts Committees could make more use of ex-officio members. The FAC also wants the Foreign and Commonwealth office to encourage Bermuda to continue to improve financial regulation, in particular in money laundering investigations. The report noted that Bermuda is the only Overseas Territory whose government favours independence but that opinion polls still showed a majority against splitting from Britain. The MPs said they were pleased with hints by UK Overseas Territories Minister Meg Munn that an election of a party by a tiny majority in low turnout election would not be acceptable as a way of taking the country to independence. In a press release accompanying the release of the findings Committee chairman, Mike Gapes MP, said: "This is a wide-ranging report considering the FCO's discharge of its responsibilities with regard to the UK's 14 Overseas Territories and making recommendations across these Territories. "We considered the FCO's management of the risks and contingent liabilities to which Overseas Territories expose the UK. We recommend that the FCO should encourage Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Gibraltar to continue to make progress in improving financial regulation, in particular in arrangements for investigating money laundering. Overall, we have concluded that, in some cases, the FCO's approach has been too hands-off. The FCO must take its oversight responsibilities for the Overseas Territories more seriously."

For full report sent to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office see http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmfaff/147/147i.pdf. 

In January 2005, the latest unofficial poll, taken among a small group of people, suggested that more than 60% of the population were not in favor of independence. Not stated in the poll or in any comments or press columns to date on possible independence is whether both those voting for independence and those against have thought of the implications of complying with current UN, USA, Canada, UK and European Community fundamental Human Rights requirements relating to citizenship, namely citizenship after 3 years if married to a Bermudian, 5 years otherwise, similar to what the USA, United Kingdom, Australia, other major countries, Grenada and other Caribbean islands offer. (Currently, citizenship for a non-Bermudian spouse is after 10 years of marriage to a Bermudian and no further citizenships are given to non-Bermudians  with no Bermudian spouse, or children born there when neither parent is Bermudian. In most countries which are members of the UN, citizenship applies automatically to every child born there).

A Bermuda Independence Commission, Bermuda Government established in 2004, published in September 2005 a 600-page report as public opinion on political independence. The then-Premier, an ardent advocate for political independence from the UK, went on record as saying he does not want a referendum on the topic, he expected the legislature to adopt it. 

Since 21 May 2002 Bermudians can get full British/EC passports and British citizenship virtually automatically, usually within a month and without any of the requirements and lengthy delays for non-British people living in the UK to get citizenship. Nor do they have to sear allegiance as do new UK citizens living in the UK. Also, they can live and work in UK and any EC country; buy any property they can afford; can register there to vote immediately and can do so in any UK or EC election; and if they physically live in the UK instead of returning to Bermuda on holiday, can get internal UK educational fees and more. 

In 1977, possible political independence for Bermuda from the UK was first reviewed comprehensively in a Green Paper, followed by a White Paper stating Government's view Bermuda was not ready. Bermudians rejected political independence on August 16, 1995 in a national referendum. In 1995, the great majority of those who participated in the 1995 referendum felt there were no economic benefits, only potential additional liabilities costly to bear, especially with the huge burden Bermuda taxpayers (and visitors) already have to bear for 47 politicians in less than 21 square miles and civil servants amounting to more than 15 percent of the entire workforce. Bermuda was the first British Commonwealth country to have a referendum on independence under the previous Bermuda Government. But it was boycotted by the Progressive Labour Party (the Bermuda Government since November 1998) and the results may not be accurate. It is not likely the present Bermuda Government will go this same democratic route. Based on what current PLP politicians and pundits are saying, independence is a foregone conclusion. But none say what the cost will be to Bermuda taxpayers of an already hugely inflated cost of government by international standards.

Bermuda and the European Union

Bermuda has chosen not to be treated as one of the Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union (EU). According to Steven Hillebrink, The Netherlands, formerly of Leiden University there, Bermuda is an OCT because it is placed on Annex II of the EC Treaty (and will be on a similar annex to the EU Constitution), but does not fall under the scope of the OCT Decisions that the Council takes every 10 years, at its own request. It is believed Bermuda made this request principally because it does not wish to comply with EU Human Rights legislation, and for other reasons. The UK had no objection to this request. 


Bermuda size & population 20.75 (Twenty point seven five) square miles in total. 64,967 residents
Resident population density per square mile 3,089. Third highest in the world
Government Code of Conduct for legislators None. There is a voluntary code, with no legislative teeth. It is ignored by some. No equivalent at all of the UK's Ethical Standards in Public Life Act.
Number in Cabinet 13. Same number as USA, equivalent in Bermuda to 0.63 (Point six three) per square mile. They have "The Honorable" before their name. 
Number of elected legislators in House of Assembly and their salaries 36. Equivalent to 1.93 (One point nine three) per square mile. They have "MP" for Member of Parliament after their name. If they are also Cabinet Ministers, they earn well in excess of $100,000 a year, plus unlimited expenses.  
Number of registered voters per Member of Parliament On December 17, 2012, date of last General Election -  the average was one thousand two hundred and ninety seven). Contrast this with no fewer than 72,810 and no more than 80,433 per member of parliament in the UK in 2011 and approximately the same in the USA per congressperson and Canada.
Number of appointed politicians in Senate 11. Equivalent to 0.53 (Point five three) per square mile. They have "Senator" before their name. If they are also Cabinet Ministers, they earn this plus what is shown above under "Number of elected legislators." 
Number of Government Boards About 108. All require the approval of the Premier who controls all Public Information. See Bermuda Government Boards separate website shown at the end of this file.
Number of Police About 460, over 20 per square mile. Plus, there are Reserve officers.
Number in Bermuda Regiment 600 members, mostly Bermudian men, mostly part time. Some non-Bermudian men and women from British Commonwealth countries and female Bermudians are serving but on a volunteer basis as conscription regulations do not require enrolment by Bermudian females and non-Bermudian males. Only male Bermudians under a certain age resident in Bermuda are liable to be conscripted, on a selective basis. 
Registered voters who can participate in a General Election Total number of registered voters in late November 2012 - date of last registration period before the December 17, 2012 General Election - was 46,678 - about 60% of the entire resident population.
The Bermuda Society  

Update after General Election held 17 December 2012

In the Bermuda General Election held Monday, December 2012, the Progressive Labour Party, in power since 1998, were defeated 17-19 seats by the relatively new political party the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) which was contesting its first General Election. Less than 18 months after it was formed in 2012 the OBA is now the Government. The new party brought together members of the United Bermuda Party, the Bermuda Democratic Alliance, former Progressive Labour Party supporters and people with no previous political involvement at all. In the end, the OBA is a beneficiary of the dismal state of the economy, although its members may soon wonder what they have gotten themselves into as they delve into the Government’s books.

Earlier Bermuda General Election held 18 December 2007

Between The Progressive Labour Party (PLP) - in Government since 1998 - and United Bermuda Party (UBP) - no longer a political party - in Opposition. The PLP remained as the Government by winning 22 seats to the UBP's 14. The UBP lost several key seats.

Bermuda laws

Even though Bermuda is a tiny (only 21 square miles it total land area) British Overseas Territory, has substantially more legislative freedom from the United Kingdom than even England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  For example, unlike Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales it has its own Finance, Health, Social Services and its own laws. It is not tied to any laws of England or the United Kingdom or those of Europe.. Only in external affairs, some aspects of the judiciary, some areas of defence and some areas of the police is Bermuda subject to UK oversight. Many of the laws existing in the United Kingdom do not exist in Bermuda. 

Bermuda's British origins and traditions

Despite Bermuda's North American (not Caribbean) geography only 600 miles from the US East Coast, most of Bermuda's roots are British. 

Bermudians are linked to Britain in culture, habits, names of places, public holidays, driving on the left, systems of high taxation on gasoline (petrol), vehicles and more, Westminster style of Government, and sports like cricket, golf and soccer. 

The British declared slavery illegal and took measures to stamp it out, decades before any action was taken in the USA. Many Bermudians do not know how their economy was at one time completely dependent on Britain.



Bermuda's security and stability is guaranteed by the UK

Britain in North America & BermudaBritish officials in the USA and Britain are often influential in Bermuda's affairs. British Information Services in New York answers questions about Britain and provides up to date Government comment on current events involving Britain. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office, at King Charles Street, London SW1 A2AH, England, telephone (011) 44-207-2701500 or fax 44-207-2702148 is the British Government department responsible for Bermuda's overseas relations and foreign affairs. 

Bermuda's British Military Graveyards

In Sandys Parish and near Fort St. Catherine in St. George's Parish are several. Countless British Army and Royal Navy officers and other ranks are interred there. Many died from yellow fever in the 1800's. Others perished at sea during the two World Wars and were brought to Bermuda for burial. Some of Bermuda's Parish Churches, for example, St. Paul's in Paget Parish, also have graves of British military personnel.

Bermuda Driving Licenses

There are no reciprocal arrangements with the United Kingdom or Canada or USA or any Caribbean island for mutual recognition of driving licenses. Even with such overseas driving licenses, newcomers must take and pass the same full written and driving tests as those who have never used them before, in order to drive a car or motor cycle or scooter or auxiliary cycle in Bermuda. Many countries - but not Bermuda - have such reciprocal arrangements. It means that when Bermudians or non-Bermudian newcomers go to the UK to work or study, they are not allowed to have the same arrangements there as do those holding driving licenses from Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa and Switzerland. 

It is up to Bermuda to make similar reciprocal arrangements and so far this has not been done.

And even though Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory and Britain is part of the European Community, Bermudians in Britain cannot claim EC/EAA driving rights. However, they may drive on their Bermuda licences for up to one year. But the same gesture is not extended by the Bermuda Government to newcomers retiring or working or visiting Bermuda. There is a double irony in that some persons still or formerly Bermudian who no longer live in Bermuda but visit from time to time and have current Bermuda driving licences, do drive cars in Bermuda.

Bermuda's Government House

Where the Governor lives, with his family. See under http://www.bermuda-online.org/seepemb.htm then Government House

Bermuda London Office

Opened on February 2, 2009 by former Premier Ewart Brown, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office representatives, MPs and former Governors Lord Waddington, Thorold Masefield and Sir John Vereker. Other guests included former UK Minister and MP Meg Munn, Andrew Tuggey of the UK Branch Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and Director of Overseas Territories' affairs at the FCO Colin Roberts. At 6 Arlington Street. The Bermuda Government's London Office there covers 2,600 sq ft and is situated in the same building as the office for the Cayman Islands, in the City of Westminster. The primary focus of the Office will be Bermuda Government relations with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and British Members of Parliament. The space and staff are also available to Bermuda Government Ministries as the need arises." The facility raises Bermuda's profile in London.

Bermuda Police

Government House has direct responsibility for the operational side of Policing with the Police Commissioner reporting directly to the Governor, while budgeting and manpower is Government’s responsibility. Paid for by Bermuda - not British - taxpayers and coming under Bermuda - not British - laws. Periodic visits are made by Britain's senior advisor for Dependent Territory Police Forces, or a former Chief Constable of  a UK Police Service. He makes periodic recommendations to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

Bermuda Regiment

See more information than shown below in Bermuda's Traditions - under "Bermuda Regiment. "

Bermuda Regiment on parade

The local defence force, established along British Army Lines and associated with the latter, reporting to the Island's Governor. Officers and men take an oath of loyalty to the Queen. The Regiment is paid for by Bermudian, not UK taxpayers. Some locals served  in the Great War of 1914 to 1918 and World War 2 in the British Army, Royal Navy, Fleet Air Arm or Royal Marines or Royal Flying Corps or Royal Air Force. In world War 2, some served in the Canadian forces. Today, some members of the Bermuda Regiment go on special courses in Britain. 

The Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to the Governor was traditionally a Bermuda Regiment officer. He used to be a British Army officer on a secondment of about 2 years but this was stopped after both the Governor and his ADC - Captain Hugh Sayers, Welsh Guards - were assassinated in March 1973 while walking in the grounds of Government House. The ADC is the equivalent of an Equerry in the UK.

The Bermuda Regiment has 5.56mm Standard NATO Self Loading Rifles (SLRs) firing 5.56 rounds or (blanks). The only non-lethal options are the wooden baton, CS (tear gas) and the rubber bullet, and permission is needed from the Governor to use the two latter. The Bermuda Police Service is reluctant to ask for help from the Regiment because most are conscripted soldiers. The Regiment is only operationally capable of fulfilling one of its two roles – providing support for the community in the case of a natural disaster. A mostly conscripted regiment is not of much use for internal security, even in emergency situations, as was proved in the 1977 riots. The Regiment doesn't serve any operational purpose such as providing cordons for assaulting ERT teams, or access to criminal records to execute warrants. It's radio frequencies don't cross over with Police, so there is no direct communication directly with them. The equipment is inadequate and obsolete compared to what the police have. Examples include no ballistic helmets, no body armour for every soldier (unlike police), inadequate handcuffs, 1980s radios, no armoured vehicles (soldiers travel in camouflage painted PTB buses).  The armoury has no shrapnel grenades, ammunition is tightly  rationed, there are no explosives, there are only eight revolvers for service pistols, the four 7.62mm machine guns are normally out of service with one working occasionally. One of their four boats is operational, the other three are used for parts. A private soldier receives about $600 for a year of service, are not involved in decisions affecting them and work overtime without reasonable overtime pay. They get around $15 from 6.45-10.15 pm, a typical drill. They need 40 drills a year to get their $600 a year. It is cheap labour, one reason Government won't abolish conscription. The last two Ministry of Defence evaluations of the Regiment have been poor with problems no army should have – bad communication, poor equipment and a gap between officers and enlisted men. The regiment gets a D grade, to barely fulfill operational requirements. 

In early 2007, the group Bermudians Against the Draft (BAD) was formed, as campaigners fighting to end compulsory military service. They issued a court summons against the Governor, Deputy Governor and Attorney General. This alleged that the ballot which chooses conscripts is gender-biased and a breach of human rights because only men are picked, not women. BAD believes Bermudian men are treated unfairly as citizens of a British Overseas Territory in being expected to serve, as Britain formally ended national service in 1960. The organisation also made allegations of ill-treatment of conscripts at Warwick Camp. Members hoped but in vain that the outcome of their legal action would be a Supreme Court ruling outlawing the draft for good. They have vowed to take the case all the way to the European Court of Justice if necessary. But on March 7, 2008 the Chief Justice of Bermuda ruled against them, under Bermuda law.  In 2010 the Privy Council in the UK also ruled against them, despite the fact that there is no conscription at all in the UK. It remains to be seen whether the findings will be overturned by British MPs, or whether it will go the European Court of Justice.

Early In March 2008, anti-draft campaigners met British MPs - telling them Bermudian men should have the same rights as those in the UK where conscription was abolished decades ago. Bermudians Against the Draft (B.A.D) requested the meeting with British MPs visiting from England, representatives from the Foreign Affairs Committee, including anti conscription MP Andrew MacKinlay, after sending written complaints. The MPs were probing standards of good governance, transparency and accountability, the role of Governors and regulation of the financial sector. The committee was made up of back bench MPs from Government and Opposition parties who will make recommendations to the British Parliament. B.A.D founder Larry Marshall Sr. said he pointed to a statement from the then British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in 2006 saying citizens of overseas territories should have the same rights as enjoyed in Britain. Conscription was abolished there in the aftermath of the Second World War and Bermuda is the only overseas territory where men only, not women too, are made to do mandatory military service. If they fail to do so they are arrested by Bermuda Regiment military police. That has not changed in 2013. 

Bermuda Society

Formed in London in 1987 to look after Bermuda's interests on a number of fronts, particularly in the areas of finance and commerce. Its membership includes some Bermudians living in London and rest of UK who wish to and qualify to join and pay the annual membership fee, plus former Governors of Bermuda. It promotes Bermuda's image; fosters closer links between Bermuda, the UK and Europe. works with BIBA and others and Bermudian students in the UK.

Governors of Bermuda from 1612 to 1852

Where "President" is shown, it  means President of the locally appointed Executive Council, not a US-style title.

Name Date  Title if not Governor, or remarks
Richard Moore 1612
6 Commissioners 1615, 29 June Provisional Government
Daniel Tucker 1616, May
Miles Kendall 1619 Temporary
Nathaniel Butler 1619, October
John Harrison 1622, 25 October Sherriff, temporary
John Bernard 1622, November Died in office
John Harrison Temporary
Henry Woodhouse 1623, December
Phillip Bell 1626, 20 September
Roger Wood 1629, 29 August
Thomas Chaddock 1637, July
William Sayle 1641
Josias Forster 1642
William Sayle 1643
William Sayle, Stephen Paynter, William Wilkinson 1644 Triumvirate
Josias Forster 1645
Jonathan Turner 1647
John Trimingham 1649, 25 September
John Jennings 1650
Josias Forster 1650, November
William Sayle 1659, 3 January
Florentius Seymour 1663, 12 January
Samuel Whalley 1668, 15 May
Sir John Heydon 1669, 15 May
Florentius Seymour 1681, 30 May Died in office 3 Nov 1682
Henry Durham 1682, 9 November Temporary
Col. Richard Coney 1683, 29 January End of Bermuda Company Charter
Col Richard Coney 1685-1687 1st Governor  under Crown
Sir Robert Robinson 1687, 12 April-1690, 20 June
Isaac Richier 1691-1693 Lieutenant Governor
John Goddard 1693-1696
Samuel Day 1698, 20 Oct-1700, 18 December Lieutenant Governor
Benjamin Bennett 1701, 2 May- 1713
Henry Pulleine 1713-1718 Lieutenant Governor
Benjamin Bennett 1718-1722

John Hope


John Trimingham 1727, November-1728, August President
John Pitt 1728-1737
Andrew Auchinleck 1737, Dec-1738, May President
Alured Popple 1738, 2 Aug-1744, 9 November
Francis Jones 1744, Nov-1747, June President
William Popple 1747, July-1751, November
Francis Jones 1751, November-1755, November President
William Popple 1755, November-1763, December
Francis Jones 1763, December- 1764, August President
George James Bruere 1764, August-1780, August
Thomas Jones 1780, September-October President
George  Bruere (son) 1780, October-1781, December Lieutenant Governor
William Browne 1782, January-1788, October American Loyalist
Henry Hamilton 1788, October-1794, October Initially Lieutenant Governor, then Governor
James Crauford  1794, 8 November- 1796, 27 October
Henry Tucker 1796, 27 October -22 November President
William Campbell 1796, 22 November-1 December
Henry Tucker 1796, December-1798, February President
George Beckwith 1798, February-1803, March
Henry Tucker 1803, April-1805, April President
Francis Gore 1805, May-1806, June Lieutenant Governor
Henry Tucker 1806, June 13-July 31 President
John Hodgson 1806, July-1810, June
Samuel Trott 1810, June-1811, August President
Sir James Cockburn 1811, August-1819, April
William Smith 1812, 4 July-14 September President
George Horsford 1812, September-July 1814 Lieutenant Governor
William Smith 1816, July-1817, November President
Sir James Cockburn 1817, November-1819, April
William Smith 1819, 15 April-25 November President
Sir William Lumley 1819, November-1822, May
William Smith 1822, May- 1823, October President
Sir William Lumley 1823, October-1825, June
William Smith 1825, June-1826, February President
Sir Hilgrove Turner 1826, February- 1829, July
Robert Kennedy 1829, July-November Acting 
Sir Hilgrove Turner 1829, November-1830, July
Robert Kennedy 1830, July -November Acting 
Sir Hilgrove Turner 1830, November-1832, January
Sir RS Chapman 1832, January-1835, April
Henry G Hunt 1835, April-September Acting
Robert Kennedy 1835, September-1836, January Acting
Sir RS Chapman 1836, January-1839, April
William Reid 1839, April-1846, November
W N Hutchinson 1846, November-December Acting
Charles Elliott 1846, December-1852, August
W Hassell Eden 1852, August-1853, May Acting
Governors of Bermuda from 1853 to now
George Philpots 1853, May-September Acting
Thomas C Robe 1853, September Acting
Soulden Oakley 1853, September-October Acting
Arthur W Byles 1853, October-November Acting
Charles Elliott 1853, November- 1854, February
Montgomery Williams 1854, February-October Acting
Freeman Murray 1854, October-1859, June
A T Hemphill 1859, June-October Acting
William Munroe 1859, October-1860, February Acting
Freeman Murray 1860, February- 1861, March
H. St George Ord 1861, March- 1864, June
William Munroe 1864, June-July Lieutenant Governor
W G Hamley 1864, July-1865, October Lieutenant Governor
H. St George Ord 1865, October-1866, November
W G Hamley 1866, Nov-1867, April Lieutenant Governor
Arnold Thompson 1867, April Acting
Sir F E Chapman 1867, April-1870, May
W F Brett 1870, May-September Lieutenant Governor
T Gore Brown 1870, September-1871, April Administrator
A A C Fisher 1871, April-May Acting
John Henry Lefroy   1871 - 1877
Lt. Gen. Thomas L. J. Gaiwey 1877-1882 
Lt. Gen. Edward Newdigate Newdegate 1888-1891 
Lt. Gen. C. Lyons 1892-1896 
Lt. Gen. O. Digby Barker 1896-1901 
Lt. Gen. Sir Henry LeGuay Geary 1902-1904 
Lt. Gen. Sir Robert M. Steward 1904-1907 
Lt. Gen. Sir Josceline H. Wodehouse 1907-1908 
Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick Walter Kitchener 1908-1912  Died while in office and was buried in Bermuda at Prospect.
Lt. Gen. Sir George M. Bullock 1912-1917 
Gen. Sir James Willlcocks 1917-1922 
Lt. Gen. Sir J. J. Asser 1922-1927 
Lt. Gen. Sir Louis Jean Bols 1927-1931 
Lt. Gen. Sir Thomas Astley-Cubbitt 1931-1936
Lt. Gen. Reginald Heldyard 1936-1939 
Lt. Gen. Sir Denis John Charles Kirwas Bernard 1939-1941 
The Rt. Hon. Viscount Knollys 1941-1943 
The Rt. Hon. Lord Burghley 1943-1945 
Admiral Sir Ralph Leatham 1946-1949 
Lt. Gen. Sir Alexander Hood 1949-1955 
Lt. Gen. Sir John Woodall 1955-1959
Maj. Gen. Sir Julian Gascoigne 1959-1964 
The Rt. Hon. Lord Martonmere, GBE, KCMG, PC 1964-1972 
Sir Richard Sharples, KCMG, OBE, MC (assassinated) 1972-1973 Assassinated in Bermuda while in office while walking with his aide, also assassinated. They were buried at St. Peter's Church in Bermuda.
Sir Edwin Leather, KCMG, KCVO 1973-1977 
The Hon. Sir Peter Ramsbotham, GCMG, GCVO 1977-1980 
Sir Richard Posnett, KBE, CMG 1980-1983 
Viscount Dunrossil, CMG 1983-1988 
Major-Gen Sir Desmond Langley, KCVO, MBE 1988-1992 
The Rt Hon Lord Waddington, GCVO, PC, QC 1992-1997
Mr Thorold Masefield, CMG 1997-2002 
Sir John Vereker, KCB 2002-12 Oct 2007 
Sir Richard Gozney, KCMG 2007, December to May 2012
Mr George Fergusson 2012 to present

Former Governor Sir Richard and Lady Gozney

Former Governor 2007 to 2012 Sir Richard and Lady Gosney

Bermuda's place in the British Commonwealth

(Referred to here in this way, and not simply as the "Commonwealth" because several US states and also other countries use the name "Commonwealth"). Bermuda is the fourth oldest of all countries, islands and territories in the British Commonwealth of Nations after England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Canada. See Bermuda History with the Old and New Worlds since 1500.  

Bermuda is one of the fourteen (14) Overseas Territories of Britain. 

Here is the complete list in alphabetical order of small countries in this category:

Place, area in square kilometers, population

Anguilla 96 10,000
Ascension Island 88 1,099
Bermuda 53.3 (20.75 square miles) 62,400
British Antarctica (South Sheffield Islands, South Orkneys and Graham's Land) 1.7 0 (3 survey stations operated by 50 to 150 people)
British Indian Ocean Territory (Diego Garcia) 54,000 2,000 American and British military personnel and 1,000 civilians.
British Virgin Islands 153 16,100
Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac) 259 32,000
Falkland Islands (including South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands) 12,173 2,121
Gibraltar 6.5 32,000
Montserrat 102 11,000
Pitcairn Islands (including Henderson, Ducie and Oeno) 35.5 54
St. Helena 122 5.664
Tristan da Cunha 38 295
Turks & Caicos 500 12,350

 British Commonwealth of Nations

As there are other places with Commonwealths - for example, some American states - the phrase "British Commonwealth of Nations" distinguishes them from other commonwealths. British Commonwealth of Nations countries are in two categories:

Independent Commonwealth nations

Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; Bahamas; Bangladesh; Barbados; Belize; Botswana; Brunel Darussalam; Canada; Cyprus; Dominica; Gambia; Ghana; Grenada; Guyana; India; Jamaica; Kenya; Kiribati; Lesotho; Malawi; Malaysia; Maldives; Malta; Mauritius; Namibia; Nauru; New Zealand; Nigeria; Pakistan; Papua New Guinea; Samoa; Seychelle Islands; Sierra Leone; Singapore; Solomon Islands; South Africa; Sri Lanka; St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Swaziland; Tanzania; Tonga; Trinidad and Tobago; Tuvalu; Uganda; United Kingdom; Vanuatu; Western Samoa; Zambia; and Zimbabwe (currently expelled from the Commonwealth for gross human rights abuses under Robert Mugabe).

British prices for petrol (gasoline)

Bermuda has followed the British system of extraordinarily high prices for petrol or gasoline. Costs are higher in Bermuda than they are in England and about the same as they are in Sutherland and Caithness in northern Scotland. On a per liter basis, the current price per liter or gallon is about 400 percent more than Americans pay, because of a very high Bermuda Government duty. 

British products in Bermuda

Many are available, especially in books, clothing, food, shoes and Scotch whisky. But the latter in particular is very expensive if bought for local consumption, even more than in Britain. A United Kingdom magazine that costs 1.99 pounds sterling is US$ 5.99 in Bermuda. A 99 pence grocery item in the United Kingdom is US$ 2.99. The foreign exchange rate that has effectively devalued the US$ to which the Bermuda Dollar is pegged has made all British goods more expensive.

British military connections

Bermuda Regiment

Royal Navy logoAt one time, British Army units galore were based in Bermuda. The file British Army Units in Bermuda from 1776 to 1953 is because Bermuda was then strategically important. When the USA and Great Britain were not firm allies, many areas were developed by British troops as forts. British military artists painted scenes of changes. They included Thomas Driver, E.G. Hallewell and Gaspar Le Merchant Tupper. Once, more than two thirds of Bermuda's Devonshire Parish alone was held by British troops. The last unit to serve before the British Army Command in Bermuda was withdrawn in 1953 was the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. 

The report of the UK's Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) can be seen at www.parliament.uk/facom.

The Old Town was once a garrison town for British troops. Until 1954, they were also at Fort Prospect in Devonshire Parish. Britain once had a huge Royal Naval Dockyard and also built a protective ring of British forts in Bermuda. It provided employment and training for thousands of Bermudians. An active Royal Artillery Association club is in the City of Hamilton and at Barrack Hill, St. George's and there are also an active local Royal Naval Association and an active Royal Air Force Association Club.

British Agencies in Aviation, Banking, Culture, Finance, Insurance and Shipping

Imperial Airways (now British Airways) began in 1937 the Britain Bermuda commercial aviation links continued today. Other assistance from the United Kingdom includes political and technical advice on matters such as aviation (and bargaining power in this particular respect) for the Bermuda Aircraft Register - an arm of the United Kingdom's Aircraft Register; economic zones, the Bermuda Shipping Register - an arm of the British Shipping Register and offshore fishing. Ships registered as British on the Bermuda Shipping Register sail under the protection of the Royal Navy during periods of strife in international waters such as the Persian Gulf.

The many close business ties with the United Kingdom help maintain the confidence of the international community in the integrity of Bermuda's financial institutions. The Governor of the Bank of England visits Bermuda periodically. Personnel frequently advise the Bermuda Government's Ministry of Finance. Many long established British organizations have branches in Bermuda. Typical of these are the Bermuda Branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society, the St. John's Ambulance Brigade, and a number of business related professional entities.

Freemasons in Britain also have close links with Bermuda. See Freemasonry in Bermuda.

British civic Honours

Civil Servants always get the top awards. Although it is the Queen who officially bestows the honours, to commemorate her annual official birthday and at New Year, the list is based on recommendations from the Premier of Bermuda, who in turn receives the names from civil servants in the Cabinet Office's ceremonial secretariat. In contrast, in Britain, The Cabinet Office has reviewed the structure and membership of honours committees. It provides greater transparency and a greater independent input to the honours process while protecting the confidentiality of individual honours candidates and recipients, and of members of the assessment committees. Business people, sportsmen and women, entertainers, broadcasters  and more get a fair share of honours.

British tourism office

In the UK, there is a Bermuda Government's Department of Tourism representative in London.

British resources available to Bermuda Government and public

Available to the Bermuda Government on a continuous basis for advice when requested are the resources of all British Government departments in London. And, in the USA, Canada and all other parts of the world, British Embassies or Consulates serve the interests of visiting Bermudians, and represent Bermuda to nationals of their jurisdictional hosts. Bermuda accedes to international treaties via the United Kingdom and, when appropriate, can act directly, with the United Kingdom's blessing and back-up.

Visits to London by Bermuda Government Cabinet Ministers have proved valuable to Bermuda, especially when the United Kingdom's experience in a variety of fields is helpful to the Bermuda Government in situations involving the potential introduction of new policies. Many Bermudian civil servants over the years have been trained in the United Kingdom. Bermuda's British links provide Bermuda with pomp and ceremony on appropriate occasions. Even those who want political independence for Bermuda have agreed it helps bring in visitors.


Thousands of British United Kingdom nationals live and work in Bermuda. They are welcome but are treated as foreigners. Bermudians do not regard themselves as British - despite this being their only official nationality - but as Bermudian. Britons - those from Great Britain - do not have the same freedoms here in residing and working without restrictions as they have in Great Britain, Ireland and rest of the European Economic Community. Britons visiting Bermuda on business or vacation or as professional newcomers cannot get Bermuda citizenship or vote or buy real estate at the same price as Bermudians - unless they marry Bermudians. Any children born here are not Bermudian unless one parent is Bermudian, so they cannot apply for any local scholarships or grants for further education abroad (but have, as non-citizens, been conscripted into the Bermuda Regiment). Many parents and grown children have been on restrictive Work Permits for more than 20 years. If as expatriates they marry a Bermudian spouse, they must wait for 10 years to get Bermudian status and pay a hefty fee. In contrast, Bermudians can apply for a UK passport, get full United Kingdom and European citizenship immediately they get the passport and live, work, vote and buy any property they wish there. This one-sided arrangement was a British Government decision taken without any referendum from the British people.

See these files in particular:

Commonwealth Foundation

An inter-governmental organization with a mandate to support the work of the non-Governmental sector in the Commonwealth.

Commonwealth Games

Bermuda always sends a contingent, members of which perform creditably.

Commonwealth Institute

An independent pan-Commonwealth agency based in London. The Institute's mission is to promote the modern Commonwealth through education and cultural programs.

Commonwealth Press Union (CPU)

Principally via Bermuda's Royal Gazette, a long term member of the CPU, Bermuda has excellent press Internet and print links with the rest of the Commonwealth.

Commonwealth Secretariat

The main inter-governmental agency of the Commonwealth and office of the Secretary-General.

Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme

Thousands of young Bermudians have participated in and received benefits from activities connected with the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. One was a massive clean-up and rehabilitation of the Bermuda National Trust's Long Island Cemetery for South African Boers captured by British Army troops during the Boer War and shipped to Bermuda for internment as prisoners of war. Many died in Bermuda.

Guy Fawke's Day

Not celebrated at all in Bermuda, unlike in UK. The practice was banned in Bermuda in the 1950s.

Hurricanes and weather reporting

Bermuda follows the American pattern, not the British.

Military conscription

Unlike in Britain, USA, Canada, etc where all Armed Forces are volunteer, the Bermuda Regiment is 75% males-only conscripted, with those refusing to serve when ordered to do so hunted down and imprisoned. Certain exemptions apply for some but not others. Summons issued publicly via the newspapers include individual names and last-known addresses of young men born in Bermuda but not Bermudian under Bermuda law unless a parent is - and who may no longer live in Bermuda. Under Bermuda's Defence Act, it is up to a parent or conscript to let the Regiment know of its error - not the Regiment to correct the error before a public summons is issued. 

Queen's Birthday Parade in June and New Year's Awards

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has her real birthday in April, but her official birthday is celebrated in June. Until 2008 it was an official Bermuda Public Holiday but no longer (nor is it in the UK). On that day, there is a formal military parade held in the city of Hamilton, led by the Governor and Premier and open to the general public. The Bermuda Regiment marches down Front Street in full dress regalia with cannons firing and the Regimental Band playing. On behalf of the Queen, the Governor, decked out in his ostrich plumed hat of office, accepts a General Salute from the Queen's soldiers as they do a slow, musical march past. Other organized bands - like the Bermuda Islanders Pipes & Drums Band - and groups join in. If there is a Royal Navy ship in port, she's alongside, decked out, with her sailors in white shorts, accompanied by a Royal Marines band.

In the afternoon, the Governor hosts the Queen's Birthday Tea at Government House. Also, the Queen's Birthday Honors are announced a few days ahead of time, based on recommendations made to the Queen by the Cabinet Office of the Bermuda Government. Periodically, a Knighthood is awarded locally, or a Companion, Officer or Member of the British Empire. These more prestigious awards invariably go to serving or retired Bermuda Government legislators or civil servants. Lesser awards include the Queen's Certificate and Badge of Honor which, since May 2012 in the UK have now been replaced by the British Empire Medal. In recent years, the number of Bermudians recommended for these honors seems to have gotten smaller and smaller.

Remembrance Day in November


Also see under Bermuda Government.

March 9, 2007. Efforts by an Opposition Minister to persuade Government to provide absentee voting at the next general election - in the same way absentee voting is not only allowed but encouraged in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Europe has has been for some time - were defeated. Shadow Minister for Legislative Reform and Justice John Barritt moved a motion in the House asking for the facility, which, he said, would help the housebound, those on vacation, and also Bermudians studying and working abroad. He said former PLP Premiers Jennifer Smith and Alex Scott had both backed the idea of voting by post, with this getting as far as draft legislation drawn up in 2005 under Mr. Scott. He pointed out that an average of 20-25 percent of those eligible to vote have not turned out at recent elections, and argued that an absentee vote could encompass around 1,000 people unable to vote in person at any given time. "This evening, the only argument we have is 'when?' and 'how soon will we get this?' and 'can we get this done when we come back (to Parliament) in May?'" said Mr. Barritt. However, Premier Ewart Brown successfully got the wording of the motion changed to one that said the Government would take note of "the need to continue research into electronic voting and proxy voting" in a 21-11 vote along party lines. Dr. Brown said the Progressive Labour Party was committed to extending the franchise in any way that is fair and can be implemented. However, speaking after his bid was defeated, Mr. Barritt said: "I was disappointed, most disappointed actually, not for myself or the Opposition but for the people of Bermuda — the voters. "What's clear from the amended motion Premier Brown put forward is that they had and have no intention of proceeding with absentee balloting for the next general election." He speculated: "My suspicion is that the Premier and his political advisors have made a crude political calculation here. They don't need or want absentee balloting on the basis that they won the last two elections without it so they've decided not to risk its introduction now."

line drawing

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