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Visiting MP Eyed ‘Self Government’ For Montserratians

by  Bennette Roach :

Following is an article published in The Montserrat Reporter several years ago.

Jog your memory, your knowledge and tell us when it was published. There are easy ways to find out. You may call, write or email your response.

Then, you may also give us your comment as to where you believe we have come since this article. Have there been any changes to this day? Let us have your thoughts and tell us how you think we are doing.

Andrew Rosindell - Member of UK Parliament

Andrew Rosindell – Member of UK Parliament

Andrew Rosindell, Conservative British MP and a member of the UK branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) delegation, which ended a one-week visit to the island on Friday, suggests more debate on the constitutional options available to Britain’s remaining Overseas Territories.

Mr. Rosindell told reporters at a news conference that all the overseas territories are in “limbo . . . some are more governed by the Governor than others, others have almost complete autonomy . . . and they are all different, each one has evolved differently.”

“As far as I can see, they all wish to remain British, they wish to retain that link, none of them are now seeking independence,” Mr. Rosindell said.

He said there needs to be an agreed long-term constitutional status. “This is a view not only from the Foreign Office but generally in Britain over many years, that each territory should gradually become independent,” he said.

“I think personally that’s been exhausted . . . all the territories that want independence have got their independence and the rest want to keep their British status . . . so our job now is to sort out a proper constitutional foundation for them to remain British . . . and also to have self-government,” Mr. Rosindell said.

Based on the three options the United Nations has put forward; independence, free association and integration, Mr. Rosindell said he personally believes “the best option is integration, but with self-government or devolved integration, which is not one of the three options.”

He explained that the three options are very different, but are something between free association and integration,”so the constitutional status of the overseas territory as part of the United Kingdom is secured but with complete self-government in a decolonised status.”
Integration, he said, could solve most of the concerns of the people on the island.

“Everyone I speak to here believes Montserratians should make their own decisions and I agree with that. . . . No longer should it be the Governor and the Foreign Office or DFID (Department for International Development) making all these decisions. . .  It should be your own elected assembly, your own local parliament which should make those decisions,” he said.

Mr. Rosindell added: ” Equally so the constitutional security of being part of, under the British crown, part of the United Kingdom should be there . . . a combination of those two things I think is a secured constitutional status for Montserrat and for the other territories, but combined with almost total self-government.”

These comments from the visiting UK Conservative party parliamentarian come as the Montserrat government awaits a draft from the Montserrat local Legislative Council committee selected to draft a new constitution to replace that submitted by the Professor Howard Fergus commission set up in January 2002.

The government had appointed the commission to “examine the present constitution of Montserrat, and following consultation at home and abroad, to make recommendations designed to modernize the Constitution and to ensure its compatibility with the present aspirations and expectations of the people of Montserrat.”

The Commission submitted its report of recommendations to government, and it was debated and discussed at the Legislative Council meeting of April 23, resulting in Chief Minister John Osborne’s declaring, “I am not convinced that after hearing the discussions that we can send this document (Report of the Commission) by itself to London.”

It was then agreed that a special committee would draft a new constitution (to be approved by the Legislative Council) and sent along with the Commission’s Report.

These comments also come following the recent United Nation’s Decolonisation seminar on Advancing the Decolonization Process in the Caribbean and Bermuda in Anguilla from May 20-22, 2003. At that meeting, the territories generally agreed to remain colonies, but with the exception of Montserrat, had put forward their own ideas of a different relationship with Britain.

“These days I think it is really quite ridiculous that someone in Whitehall (UK) is making spending decisions and deciding on how things are governed in terms of Montserrat when you yourselves are quite capable of making your own decisions, electing your own government that can govern and make local decisions,” Mr. Rosindell said.

He noted that in the UK devolution has taken place in Scotland, where its own parliament makes decisions, and even in London, where an assembly makes regional decisions, “so I don’t see why similar arrangements could not come about with the Overseas Territories, especially Montserrat.”

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by  Bennette Roach :

Following is an article published in The Montserrat Reporter several years ago.

Jog your memory, your knowledge and tell us when it was published. There are easy ways to find out. You may call, write or email your response.

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Then, you may also give us your comment as to where you believe we have come since this article. Have there been any changes to this day? Let us have your thoughts and tell us how you think we are doing.

Andrew Rosindell - Member of UK Parliament

Andrew Rosindell – Member of UK Parliament

Andrew Rosindell, Conservative British MP and a member of the UK branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) delegation, which ended a one-week visit to the island on Friday, suggests more debate on the constitutional options available to Britain’s remaining Overseas Territories.

Mr. Rosindell told reporters at a news conference that all the overseas territories are in “limbo . . . some are more governed by the Governor than others, others have almost complete autonomy . . . and they are all different, each one has evolved differently.”

“As far as I can see, they all wish to remain British, they wish to retain that link, none of them are now seeking independence,” Mr. Rosindell said.

He said there needs to be an agreed long-term constitutional status. “This is a view not only from the Foreign Office but generally in Britain over many years, that each territory should gradually become independent,” he said.

“I think personally that’s been exhausted . . . all the territories that want independence have got their independence and the rest want to keep their British status . . . so our job now is to sort out a proper constitutional foundation for them to remain British . . . and also to have self-government,” Mr. Rosindell said.

Based on the three options the United Nations has put forward; independence, free association and integration, Mr. Rosindell said he personally believes “the best option is integration, but with self-government or devolved integration, which is not one of the three options.”

He explained that the three options are very different, but are something between free association and integration,”so the constitutional status of the overseas territory as part of the United Kingdom is secured but with complete self-government in a decolonised status.”
Integration, he said, could solve most of the concerns of the people on the island.

“Everyone I speak to here believes Montserratians should make their own decisions and I agree with that. . . . No longer should it be the Governor and the Foreign Office or DFID (Department for International Development) making all these decisions. . .  It should be your own elected assembly, your own local parliament which should make those decisions,” he said.

Mr. Rosindell added: ” Equally so the constitutional security of being part of, under the British crown, part of the United Kingdom should be there . . . a combination of those two things I think is a secured constitutional status for Montserrat and for the other territories, but combined with almost total self-government.”

These comments from the visiting UK Conservative party parliamentarian come as the Montserrat government awaits a draft from the Montserrat local Legislative Council committee selected to draft a new constitution to replace that submitted by the Professor Howard Fergus commission set up in January 2002.

The government had appointed the commission to “examine the present constitution of Montserrat, and following consultation at home and abroad, to make recommendations designed to modernize the Constitution and to ensure its compatibility with the present aspirations and expectations of the people of Montserrat.”

The Commission submitted its report of recommendations to government, and it was debated and discussed at the Legislative Council meeting of April 23, resulting in Chief Minister John Osborne’s declaring, “I am not convinced that after hearing the discussions that we can send this document (Report of the Commission) by itself to London.”

It was then agreed that a special committee would draft a new constitution (to be approved by the Legislative Council) and sent along with the Commission’s Report.

These comments also come following the recent United Nation’s Decolonisation seminar on Advancing the Decolonization Process in the Caribbean and Bermuda in Anguilla from May 20-22, 2003. At that meeting, the territories generally agreed to remain colonies, but with the exception of Montserrat, had put forward their own ideas of a different relationship with Britain.

“These days I think it is really quite ridiculous that someone in Whitehall (UK) is making spending decisions and deciding on how things are governed in terms of Montserrat when you yourselves are quite capable of making your own decisions, electing your own government that can govern and make local decisions,” Mr. Rosindell said.

He noted that in the UK devolution has taken place in Scotland, where its own parliament makes decisions, and even in London, where an assembly makes regional decisions, “so I don’t see why similar arrangements could not come about with the Overseas Territories, especially Montserrat.”