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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Toasting the Territories

Saturday, December 8, 2007

At a reception to mark the ninth Overseas Territories Consultative Council in London Meg made the following remarks.


It’s a great pleasure to welcome you here to mark the ninth Overseas Territories Consultative Council. I want, in particular, to greet the Chief Ministers, Premiers and Councillors who have travelled great distances to be with us.


We have a diverse range of interests represented here this evening, including the private sector, academic world, research bodies, NGOs and international organisations. We have Governors from the Territories, representatives from the UK Overseas Territories Association, as well as those who work closely with us in pursuit of our shared interests.


However, I do have to warn you that also present are representatives from both Houses of Parliament! Seriously, they take a close interest in the affairs of the Overseas Territories and are very knowledgeable. As the Minister responsible for the Territories I sometimes bear the brunt of their concerns!


The Overseas Territories feature prominently among the British Government’s international priorities. How the relationship is managed will, quite rightly, continue to be subject to scrutiny by Parliament and other interested bodies. 


The National Audit Office published last month a report on how we manage risk in the Overseas Territories. It recognised that we have come some way since the last report in 1997, making progress in a number of areas.  The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, along with other Whitehall departments, will be taking forward the recommendations in the report. 


I welcome the inquiry into the Overseas Territories that is underway by the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs. I see representatives from the Committee here this evening. 


We are here this evening to mark the occasion of the ninth Overseas Territories Consultative Council. These meetings are now an annual fixture in the Government’s calendar. They offer a unique opportunity, bringing together British Ministers and Chief Ministers, Premiers and Councillors to discuss matters of concern. We attach great importance to continued engagement with the leaders of the Territories in order to promote security, safety and prosperity.  


I have been looking forward to meeting the leaders from the Territories and to hear from them directly about the issues that matter in our relationship. Our talks have been wide ranging. I have found them both informative and, I hope the leaders of the Territories will agree, constructive. 


There is growing prosperity in the majority of the Territories. There are also many opportunities in the future, but with opportunities come challenges. For my part, I look forward to working with you over the next 12 months to make the most of those opportunities and to confront the challenges. 


Finally, I would like to thank you all for joining us this evening.  Unfortunately, I have to leave you earlier than planned this evening to attend another engagement.  But, before I do, I would ask you to raise your glasses with me in a toast to “The Territories”.

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