Overseas territories

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on British overseas territories. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Commons Briefing Papers

08.05.2015Disputes over the British Indian Ocean Territory: developments since mid-2013
This briefing describes the main developments since mid-2013 in long-running disputes over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). A new feasibility study has been conducted into whether some form of resettlement of the Chagos Islanders, who were forcibly removed over 50 years ago in anticipation of a US military base on Diego Garcia, is feasible. A Marine Protected Area established in 2010 by the then Labour Government was recently found to violate international law. No progress has been made on the issue of sovereignty. Mauritius claims sovereignty and the UK has undertaken to hand over the BIOT once it is no longer needed for defence purposes. However, negotiations are currently underway between the UK and US to extend the life of the US military base to 2036. Meanwhile, lawyers for the Chagossians continue to pursue litigation in the British Courts.
22.05.2013Disputes over the British Indian Ocean Territory: a survey
Between 1968 and 1973 the British Government cleared the entire Chagos Archipelago of its inhabitants, opening the way for a US military base on the biggest island, Diego Garcia. The Archipelago was made a British overseas territory, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). Two main disputes have arisen from these events. One has been between the Chagos Islanders and the British Government over the legality of the former's removal and whether they have a right to return. The other has been between the UK and Mauritius about sovereignty over the BIOT. The UK has said that it will cede sovereignty to Mauritius once the BIOT is no longer required for defence purposes.
17.01.2013Antarctic Bill - Committee Stage
The Antarctic Bill is presented as a Private Member's Bill by Neil Carmichael MP. This note sets out the issues discussed in the Bill Committee on 21 November 2012. These included: the timing of the enactment of the provisions relating to the liability annex, compatibility with existing shipping liability provisions, and the wider issue of the future of the British Antarctic Survey.
31.12.2012The Turks and Caicos Islands
This note briefly reviews the crisis of political and economic governance which has affected the Turks and Caicos Islands since 2008. A period of direct rule came to an end when fresh elections were held in November 2012. Only time will tell whether the Turks and Caicos Islands are now set on a new course - and, if so, what that course is.
18.07.2012Antarctica: the treaty system and territorial claims
The unique treaty system that protects the Antarctic is constantly updated and sometimes challenged. A current Private Member's Bill would implement recent changes in the UK.
11.10.2006Gibraltar: diplomatic and constitutional developments
Gibraltar: diplomatic and constitutional developments. House of Commons Library Research Paper 06/48.
22.05.2002Gibraltars constitutional future
Gibraltars constitutional future. House of Commons Library Research Paper 02/37.
22.04.1998Gibraltar, the United Kingdom and Spain
Gibraltar, the United Kingdom and Spain. House of Commons Library Research Paper 98/50.


18.01.2013Biodiversity in UK Overseas Territories
The UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) support a diverse variety of habitats ranging from ice fields and rocky islands to coral reef atolls and tropical forests. This POSTnote summarises the challenges to conservation management and halting biodiversity loss in UKOTs, as required under international agreements.

Select Committee Reports

23.03.2010Crown dependencies.
Justice Select Committee report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

That this House calls on Her Majesty's Government to recognise the enormous contribution made by members of Her Majesty's Armed Services from each of the British Overseas Territories ...
That this House notes with concern the devastating effect of the recent grounding of the bulk carrier M.S. Oliva on the British Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha; recognises the ...
That this House joins the people of the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat in celebrating St Patrick's Day on 17 March 2011 as their national day; recognises the bond of friendship, ...
That this House welcomes the international treaty to ban the use, manufacture, sale and storage of cluster munitions that came into force on 1 August 2010; is concerned that the American ...
That this House recognises the enormous contribution by members of Her Majesty's Armed Services from each of the British Overseas Territories in wars and conflicts over the years, fighting ...


  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses