Mark Simmonds, MP
Mark Simmonds MP, has been appointed the United Kingdom (UK) Minister for the Overseas Territories, replacing former Minister Henry Bellingham, who was removed recently by British Prime Minister David Cameron during a reshuffle of his Cabinet.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) confirmed that Simmonds was appointed on September 5 as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
Simmonds' responsibilities include Africa; Overseas Territories including the BVI; Conflict Issues; Climate Change; International Energy; Consular; Protocol; Ministerial Oversight for FCO Services; and the Caribbean (not including Dominican Republic, Haiti or Cuba).
As reported earlier, international media reports stated that Bellingham declined to state whether he had been offered an alternative ministerial position, but did state that he hoped it was not the end of his career in Government.
"I've had ten years as a frontbencher and I'm really happy that I got to do the Foreign Office job for more than two years and travelled across 61 countries in that time," Bellingham said.
He was first appointed to the Foreign Office in 2010 and has been a Conservative frontbencher for the past 10 years.
Bellingham was on a visit to the BVI in April and during that visit, the National Democratic Party (NDP) Government signed the Protocols for Effective Financial Management, which according to Government, will help to set the Virgin Islands' finances on a steady course for the future.
Premier Hon. Dr. Orlando Smith signed on behalf of the Government and Mr. Bellingham on behalf of the UK.
Since the signing of the protocols the opposition has raised many questions surrounding several aspects of the protocols, while Government has continually defended the document.