Close down Cayman Islands access to British parliament, says peer

By Caribbean News Now contributor

LONDON, England — An all-party group of British members of parliament, established to further the interests of the Cayman Islands, should be closed down, a senior member of the House of Lords, Lord Oakeshott, said on Monday.

The House of Commons standards committee is looking into allegations surrounding some all-party groups (APGs) after reports that Conservative MP Patrick Mercer had boasted to undercover journalists posing as business contacts that he could get a group of “free-loaders” to join an APG on Fiji.

Oakeshott, a former Treasury minister, said on Monday morning: “Look at the Cayman Islands all-party group. Just see what this is all about. Just see who is running that and paying for that. That is not an appropriate way for Parliament to be used… in many cases these are front organisations for commercial interests. Close down the APG on the Cayman Islands and make them pay their tax.”

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by any members of the Cayman Islands group, which has its secretariat supplied by the Cayman Islands government, but that did not deter Oakeshott.

The Cayman Islands parliamentary group is chaired by Graham Brady, the MP who is also the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, which can have an important role in choosing the party leader.

The Cayman Islands is a British overseas territory in the northwestern Caribbean and a major offshore financial centre that frequently comes under attack for helping businesses avoid paying tax.

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