|Minister of State for the Independent Caribbean in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Henry Bellingham and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean during a recent courtesy call. (G. Brewster/BGIS)??|
The United Kingdom’s Minister of State for the Independent Caribbean in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Henry Bellingham, has expressed delight in being assigned the Caribbean portfolio.??
Planning to take a "more focused approach", Mr. Bellingham told Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Maxine McClean during a recent courtesy call at her Culloden Road office, that he hoped to concentrate on issues such as renewable energy, law and order, tertiary education and ways to increase bilateral trade.
Minister McClean acknowledged that the areas outlined were extremely critical to the island and pointed out: "Law and order and security are particularly important.?? Our fear is that drug trafficking might come to the region with the clean-up success in Colombia and Mexico, but so far, Barbados has been able to control the crime level."
She outlined that training of the island’s police force and effective rehabilitation programmes for prisoners were necessary so that there could be a reduction in "convicts leaving prison worse off than they went in".
The British envoy concurred that security was paramount, stating that some of Britain’s penal institutions had implemented City and Guilds skills training courses and work programmes for inmates, both aimed at the effective rehabilitation of offenders.??
Mr. Bellingham also praised the island for working with Britain on the issue of climate change.?? According to him: "Barbados is the island with which the UK has the strongest and most natural relationship; there is a certain level of trust and cooperation between the two countries."
Moreover, he called for increased trade and investment to take place between the nations.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said proposed initiatives for enhanced trade, foreign direct investments and any developments in renewable energy that would assist Barbados in reducing its oil bill, would be welcomed.?? She noted that government would prefer to redirect that expense to invest more in its human capital.??