Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Social Security Speech

CONSTITUTIONAL AND ELECTORAL REFORM: THE SITUATION SO FAR
6TH ANNUAL WALTER G HODGE MEMORIAL ANGUILLA DAY LECTURE
BY DON MITCHELL CBE QC
6 JUNE 2006
HOUSE OF CHANDELIERS, SOUTH HILL, ANGUILLA
  1. Introduction. Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen. Let me say what an honour it is for me to have been asked to give this Memorial Lecture. I must thank the Social Security Board for agreeing the topic, and thereby giving the Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission the opportunity to explain where we see Anguilla at this juncture in its constitutional development.
  1. We need to reflect for a moment on Anguilla’s progress over the years, with emphasis on our constitutional advancement. To appreciate the progress we have made, it will be necessary to look in some detail at where we have come from. The old cliché is that only then will we appreciate where it is that we have arrived at, and perhaps perceive where it is that we are going to.
  1. Settlement. The modern history of Anguilla begins in the year 1650. The first group of settlers arrived from St Kitts. It was an unauthorised colony. The settlement did not occur under any official encouragement. By contrast, the settlement of St Christopher in 1623, Nevis in 1628, Antigua in 1632, and Montserrat in 1633, had all been covered by commission from either the King or the Governor in Chief.
  1. The early colony was considered by the Governors in Chief to be an unmitigated nuisance. It served no useful purpose. It exported no crops or other primary product to Britain to contribute to the imperial economy, nor did it serve any strategic purpose. Rather, the island was first settled by time-out indentured servants, runaway slaves and black freedmen, pirates and buccaneers settling down under one of the many Acts of Amnesty of the period, and desperate small-farmers from other islands, all hungry for land of any sort.
  1. First Invasion. Despite the poverty of the islanders, the French in St Martin mounted the first invasion in the year 1666. The Sieur Des Roses with 300 men took the island and carried back to St Martin prisoners and canon. The island’s defenses were built back up and a few canon supplied, but the poverty of the island precluded any real effort on the part of the colonial authorities to protect the islanders from any future attack.
  1. Abraham Howell. In 1667, the Anguillians took matters into their own hands. They elected a local settler, Abraham Howell, as their deputy governor. Neither he nor any other later deputy governor of Anguilla was ever given any patent or official document of appointment, unlike in other islands. The Anguillians were uniquely permitted to nominate their own deputy governor right up to the day in 1825 when the island was absorbed into St Kitts.
  1. Lack of Proper Government. The failure of the colonial authorities to provide for the proper government of Anguilla was not at the time a matter for self-congratulation. It is evidence of the poverty of, and lack of official interest in, the island. Its settlers were considered of so little account that the authorities in both Antigua, the centre of government, and London, could not be bothered to make any arrangement during the period of nearly 175 years for its proper administration. The consequence has been a simmering sense in Anguilla of abandonment by all outside authorities, and a deep-seated awareness of the need for self-reliance, that characterise the Anguillian political psyche to this day. Evidence of this abandonment abound in the records.
  1. Neither Lord Willoughby nor his son and successor William ever visited Anguilla, beginning a trend that was to be followed by successive Governors in Chief for the next 200 years. Governor Willoughby may never have visited Anguilla. But he had his sources of information. In the year 1668, he reported back to London on the state of the island. He described it as being occupied by some two or three hundred people who had fled there in time of war. He opined that,
T’is not worth keeping.
He reported that the people made only tobacco and were very poor.
  1. Leeward Islands Government. In 1670, shortly after the Treaty of Breda, the Leeward Islands government was separated from Barbados. They became a separate colony with their own Governor. This constitutional change was not to be of any benefit or advantage to the Anguillians. Once war returned to the West Indies in 1672, the government of the Leeward Islands decided that the island was not worth defending. The few canon placed on Anguilla for defence in 1666 were removed to St Kitts, and the island once more left without the means to defend itself. In 1688 the French landed a party of Wild Irish on Anguilla, who treated the defenceless inhabitants more barbarously than any of the French pirates who had attacked them before. If they had been left their canon, we can be sure that the Wild Irish would have had a hot reception, but then we would have been deprived of many of the good folk of Island Harbour: the Ruans, Harrigans, and Bryans.
  1. Throughout the Seventeenth Century, Anguilla merits very few dispatches or reports of her own from the Governor in Chief back to London. She crops up more often as a mere footnote in a report on conditions in the Leeward Islands generally. A typical example is found in a 1676 report when the deputy governor of Antigua describes Anguilla in the terse words,
a barren, rocky island, ill-settled by the English, and of small consequence . . .
  1. That same year, the Governor in Chief advised London that while Anguilla had never been surveyed, there was no need to. It was so small and the land so poor, he said, that it would always be incapable either of holding many people or of defending itself. He recommended that it was fitter for raising livestock than for planting any of the cash crops of the islands at the time.
  1. Four years later, he expressed the usual exasperation at Anguilla’s failure to honour the Navigation Acts and to support British Trade. He wrote that
It were to be wished that . . . Anguilla were as much under water as above it.
In 1683, he wrote disparagingly again of Anguilla, dismissing it with the words,
T’is fit for little but goats.
  1. In 1688, the Spaniards from Puerto Rico attacked Anguilla in force. Deputy governor Howell described the outcome. On the night of 21 December the Spaniards landed some 250 men accompanied by some English and Irish renegades. At about 8:00 am the following morning, Howell with a band of his militia ambushed them and put them to flight. They left so precipitously that they abandoned all their Anguillian prisoners and 10 Frenchmen obtained from other islands. Howell’s only request of the Governor in Antigua was for a barrel of gunpowder for his guns. This, he said, he needed to be able to give the Spanish a better welcome if they visited again. But, there is no indication that he ever received so simple and basic a government supply. Anguilla was so poor and insignificant to the Colonial authorities that it simply did not count in preparing for the defence of the Leeward Islands.
  1. The following year, 1689, the first and last evacuation of the island took place. The Governor in Chief dispatched a fleet of sloops to bring all the inhabitants to Antigua. His hope was that the Anguillians would remain in Antigua where he planned to let them have sufficient land to cultivate not only for their own benefit, but to increase the King’s revenue. His plan for the future disposition of the Anguillians were frustrated, for most of them returned to Anguilla. Poor as the land was, and arid as the climate was, the Anguillians persisted in clinging to every inch of it, then as they do now.
  1. In 1701, the little colony was over 50 years old. The second generation of Anguillians had come of age. Yet, the authorities showed no greater concern than they had earlier for the protection of the inhabitants. The Governor in Chief in Antigua made a military evaluation of each of the islands. Anguilla, he said,
hath so few inhabitants, and most of them so poor, that whosoever hath, or will have it, will be very little the better for it.
Later that year, the Governor in Chief went a step farther when he referred to the propensity for smuggling that even then characterized the most enterprising of Anguilla’s sons, and remarked that
The men of Anguilla are perfect outlaws.
  1. To recapitulate, a principal reason for the virtual abandonment of Anguilla by the colonial authorities from the earliest days of settlement was that the island contributed nothing to the colonial coffers. The result was that the Governors in Chief throughout the Seventeenth Century continually maligned the island and its people.
  1. The Governor in Chief described conditions in Anguilla in a dispatch of 1709. The life he described was one of extreme poverty and hardship. There was, he said, a deputy governor, but he had no authority:
The people lived there like savages, without order or government. They had neither lawyer nor parson among them. They gave themselves in marriage to each other. They only thought themselves Christians because they were descended from Christians.
The life he described was hardly to improve for nearly 300 years.
  1. First Council. The Governor in Chief visited Anguilla in 1724. He claimed that he found it to be a poor and barren place. The inhabitants bore all the signs of poverty in the quality of their houses, clothing and food. He did not see any chance of improvement in their condition. He had made enquiry how such a miserable island came to be settled. He had found two principal sources for the original settlers:
First, there were those that had fled Barbados and others of the bigger islands to escape prosecution for debts or crimes. In addition to these fugitives, there were also pirates who had been amnestied under various enactments passed by the Leeward Islands Assembly. They had married into the local community and had settled down. There, they and their progeny lived in ignorance of the rest of the world. They scratched the ground for a miserable subsistence.
And, yet, he was astonished to find among them such a fierce contention over property. As they had no formal system for settling disputes, he had appointed one of them a Justice of the Peace, to sit on the local Council with the deputy governor. He also appointed a Secretary to the Council to keep records, and a Provost Marshal to enforce its orders.
  1. If later Governors in Chief had shown half as much interest in the welfare of the Anguillians, the development of the island might well have progressed differently to the way it in fact did. But, no other Governor in Chief was to visit the island again in the period before the American Revolution of 1776.
  1. Throughout the Eighteenth Century, in the absence of a legislature to enact laws for good government as in the other islands, a deputy governor of Anguilla was obliged to rely for his authority on his personal standing in the community, not to mention his physical prowess. As the Governor in Chief said of the governor of Anguilla in his 1724 dispatch:
If his cudgel happens to be one whit less than a sturdy subject’s, good night, governor!
  1. Legislative Assembly. We know that the Governors in Chief made a token gesture at establishing some sort of government for Anguilla by unofficially appointing a deputy governor from time to time. An Executive Council of sorts was similarly recognised by the Governor after 1724. But, this never had any authority backed by law. An essential institution of government was the Assembly to make laws. No form of Assembly was ever established for Anguilla. Neither during the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, nor Nineteenth Centuries did Anguilla have an Assembly to enact local laws. Laws made by other islands did not apply to Anguilla. Anguilla remained a lawless frontier settlement well into the eighteenth century. The Council of Anguilla, when it was eventually established in the Eighteenth Century, acted as legislature, executive, and judiciary, a situation to the advantage of the most powerful planters and merchants and no one else.
  1. In the 1730s, Anguilla was at the lowest point of its reputation. In 1734, the Governor in Chief remarked on the lack of law and a properly constituted method for its enforcement in Anguilla. He complained that he did not know what to do with the inhabitants. They lived, he said,
like so many bandits, in open defiance of the laws of God and men.
  1. A few years later, in 1741, an eminent economist wrote how the lives of the Anguillians of his day had not improved from the earliest days of settlement. Of the early settlers he wrote,
Their business . . . was to plant corn, and breed tame cattle, for which purpose they brought stock with them. They were poor and continue so to this day, being perhaps the laziest creatures in the world. Some people have gone from Barbados, and the other English Charibbee Islands, thither, and there they live like the first race of men, without government or religion, having no minister nor governor, no magistrates, no law, and no property worth keeping. If a French author is to be believed . . . ’The island is not thought worth the trouble of defending or cultivating it’. In which perhaps the Frenchman is out, for the soil being good, if an industrious people were in possession of it, they would soon make it worth defending.
  1. The Anguillians of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries reciprocated the abandonment the authorities extended to them. They depended on inter-island trading in their sloops and schooners, a little salt picking and growing of tobacco and cotton, and the growing and export of vegetables and small-stock to St Kitts and other near-by islands as cash crops. They moved freely between the Dutch, French and Danish territories as if they were mere extensions of Anguilla. Anguillian sloops connected Anguilla with St Martin and St Croix where so many of the local families had family and business connections. In the beginning, her sloops brought valuable dye woods and building timbers from the forests of Crab Island and St Croix to the merchants of the Leewards. Later in the Eighteenth Century, they ventured as far as New York and London. Anguillian sloops traded from one island to the other, regardless of the Navigation Acts and customs duties. The Anguillians made their own laws and elected their own governors. They were polite enough, but they did not blindly obey the instructions of a distant governor. When those instructions ran contrary to their vital interests, they ignored them without hesitation. These early settlers built the foundation of the present tradition of complete irreverence for all national boundaries and customs barriers that characterize the best Anguillian merchants of today.
  1. Sugar. By 1725, sugarcane agriculture had come to Anguilla. The sugar industry of Anguilla was short-lived, lasting only until the American Revolution of 1776, a mere 50 years. The industry was never as successful as it was in the wetter, more prosperous islands. The absence of windmills bear testimony to the lack of capital invested in the industry. The animal-round was the normal source of power for crushing the canes. The boiling houses and curing houses were small, and few of their ruins remain at this time.
  1. Slavery. From the earliest days of settlement there were slaves present on the island. The system of slavery existed in Anguilla in all its gory detail until its final abolition throughout the Empire in 1839. Many examples of the brutality of the system, and of the times, can be found in the records.
  1. Collapse of the Economy. The American Revolution of 1776 brought an end to any hope of prosperity for Anguilla in the Nineteenth Century. The Revolution resulted in war in the West Indies. The Royal Navy blockaded all trade with the rebelling northern colonies. Then as now, Anguilla only survived by trade. Anguilla’s economy was devastated by the blockade. While before 1776 law suits for hundreds of pounds local currency were common, after that date the records show mainly debts of a few shillings being squabbled over in court. Most of the planters emigrated. Anguilla could no longer maintain a pretence of a Council.
  1. Then, in 1820, Anguilla was devastated by a hurricane and this was followed by famine. The Secretary of State suggested to the Governor in Chief that Anguilla should be allowed to send one representative to sit on the St Kitts Assembly, which would then make laws for Anguilla. St Kitts was not interested. The Lieutenant Governor of that island replied that instead Anguilla would be better ruled direct from London.
  1. Absorption by St Kitts. Under pressure from both London and the Governor in Chief, in 1825 the inhabitants of Anguilla consented to the abolition of their Council. They agreed to be absorbed by St Kitts and for the Assembly of St Kitts to make laws to apply in Anguilla. The Anguilla Act of 1825 of the St Kitts Assembly gave the freeholders of Anguilla the right to send up a representative. The colony was now known as “St Christopher and Anguilla”. No law affecting Anguilla could be passed except in the presence of the Anguilla representative. We gave up the right to our own deputy governor. Our officials were to be appointed from St Kitts from then on. The St Kitts Assembly took on responsibility for Anguilla very reluctantly and only under pressure from the Colonial authorities. They made it clear to the Governor in Chief in repeated resolutions that no part of the cost of administering Anguilla would be borne by the St Kitts population.
  1. First Petition for Separation. It did not take long for the people of Anguilla to become dissatisfied with government from St Kitts. On 10 March 1825, they sent an address to the Governor in Chief complaining about an Act of the St Kitts Assembly that had reduced the power of the Vestry. They wrote:
Can we indulge a hope that laws enacted for this community, can and will be made with much regard to its interests; when they are passed by a body of men living in a distinct and remote island, possessing no property of any kind here and having no connection or relation whatever?
This time they were not ignored. They got back the Vestry in 1827.
  1. Second Petition. In 1871, the Leeward Islands were federated. Anguillians realised that they would be combined in the Presidency of St Christopher and Anguilla. They submitted a memorandum opposing the plan. They complained among other things that:
We watch with the greatest apprehension what appears to be the imminent decadence of an Island which for many years past has held a prominent position among the Islands of this Government for prosperity, good order and self reliance . . .
They proposed that:
. . . we may be allowed to revert to our former system namely a lieutenant governor . . . with an Administrative Committee, a form of government that gave satisfaction to all classes of the community, and under which we enjoyed the greatest amount of prosperity.
There is no indication in the records that the Anguillians ever received any response to this petition. Certainly no attention was paid to their concerns, as Anguilla duly entered the new Federation attached to St Kitts.
  1. Third Petition. The Anguillians continued to complain about the remoteness of, and unsatisfactory nature of government from, St Kitts. On 23 August 1872 they petitioned the Colonial Office:
The interest of Anguilla, its resources and capabilities of development are not understood . . . by the legislative body of St Christopher who are utter strangers to us, ignorant of the community, careless of their wants, and therefore unequal to discharge . . . the important duties of legislation for us . . . This legislative dependence on St Kitts can in no sense be called a legislative union, it has operated and continues to operate most injuriously against us, and is mutually disliked.
  1. By 1882 the economy of Nevis had disintegrated. Its Council was dissolved and the island was merged with St Kitts and Anguilla. The Presidency was now known as “St Christopher and Nevis”. The name of Anguilla was dropped. The Anguilla Vestry was abolished, and the Magistrate was appointed to oversee the day-to-day running of the island. Local government in Anguilla had disappeared.
  1. Fourth Petition. The situation remained unaltered throughout the first half of the Twentieth Century. In 1958 the Anguillians continued to suffer under a very low standard of living. Discontent with government from St Kitts peaked again. The result was another petition to the Governor of the Leeward Islands requesting him to:
. . . make every exertion which lies in your power to bring about the dissolution of the present political and administrative association of Anguilla with St Kitts.
And warning:
A people cannot live without hope for long without erupting socially; and it is because the people of Anguilla prefer petition to eruption that we now implore Your Excellency to use your best endeavours with the Secretary of State for the Colonies . . . to have Anguilla created a grant-aided colony, emancipated from the dead hand of the political leaders of St Kitts . . . We know that Anguilla must have at least an economic horizon to bolster a petition of this sort, but paradoxically such a horizon can never, never appear unless the island is free of St Kitts politics whose avowed intent it is to withhold from Anguilla even the ordinary amenities of modern civilised life.
  1. Associated Statehood. With the dissolution of the short-lived West Indies Federation in 1962 the islands reverted to colonial status for a short period. Britain and the Leeward and Windward Islands agreed to the creation of Statehood in Association with Britain, envisaged as a first step to independence. This relationship gave the Associated States full internal self-government, with Britain reserving only defence and external affairs.
  1. During 1966 a new Constitution for the creation of the Associated State of St Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla was discussed in London. Against the background of Anguilla’s persistent demand for a break from St Kitts, one of the proposals discussed was the establishment of local government in Anguilla. It agreed that the 1967 Constitution should contain a provision for Anguilla, and Nevis, to enjoy a degree of local government. The experiment was not to succeed. The St Kitts government never had any intention of permitting the Anguillians any real degree of internal self-government. This failure led to the mounting of a campaign against Statehood. It was led by such men as Ronald Webster, Atlin Harrigan, and John Rogers.
  1. Anguilla Revolution. Despite the objections of the Anguillians, on 26 February 1967 St Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla became an Associated State. On 27 February 1967, the Constitution of the Associated State came into effect. Anguilla refused to go into this status, and the Anguilla Revolution of 1967 commenced. On 8 March the Government House was burned to the ground and the Warden fled to St Kitts the next day. On 29 May at a meeting in the Park, the crowd voted by a show of hands to expel the St Kitts policemen from the island. The crowd left the Park in procession and marched to Police Headquarters where they ordered the police to leave Anguilla by 10:00 am the following day. The following morning the policemen were advised that a plane was ready to take them to St Kitts, and by noon they were all disarmed and expelled from Anguilla.
  1. The Peace-keeping Committee. On 31 May 1967, a Peace-keeping Committee comprising Walter Hodge as Chairman, Peter Adams, Atlin Harrigan, Alfred Webster, James Baird, John Rogers, Clifford Rogers, Ronald Webster, Wallace Rey, Camile Connor, Phillip Lloyd, Charles Fleming, Wallace Richardson, Mac Connor, and Emile Gumbs was established to manage the island’s affairs. The same day, a delegation comprising Rev Leonard Carty, Rev Martin Roberts, Peter Adams, and Conrad Walton Fleming was sent to St Kitts to search for a peaceful solution. They presented a memorandum to the Governor which read in part:
Anguillians do not want to be a part of the State of St Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla. The time when they might have accepted this is past. What they now want is separation from St Kitts. They want a process set in motion now which will give them separation and self-determination within twelve months. By the end of this time they want to be a State in Association with Britain.
  1. Attack on St Kitts. The response of the St Kitts government was immediate. A state of emergency was declared and regional governments were requested to send military assistance to put down the rebellion. The Anguilla Revolution was well under way. The Anguillians took the view that the best form of defence was attack. In the early hours of the morning of 10 June, a party of armed Anguillians landed in St Kitts and attacked the Police Headquarters, the Defence Force Headquarters, and the power station. Among the brave men were Todville Harrigan, Mitchell Harrigan, Collins Hodge, and Lemuel Phillip. The attack was a failure due to the small size of the Anguillian force, and the non-occurrence of the promised uprising by Kittitians against their own government. Nonetheless, the attack served Anguilla well in that the St Kitts Defence Forces concentrated on the defence of St Kitts, and never mounted an attack on Anguilla in response.
  1. Referendum on Secession. The St Kitts government insisted that the Anguilla Revolution had no legitimacy and was not supported by the majority of residents. The response of the Peace-keeping Committee was to hold a referendum on secession from St Kitts on 11 July 1967. The result was an overwhelming vote (1,813 to 5) in favour of secession.
  1. First Constitution. A further step towards legitimising the Revolution was the preparation of a Constitution. Dr Roger Fisher, a professor of law at Harvard University, agreed to help. He drafted an eleven-section Constitution which provided for the creation of an Anguilla Council with full legislative and executive powers. There were to be five elected and two nominated members.
  1. First Anguilla Council. The Fisher Constitution appointed the first members of the Council who were to hold office until elections could be held not later than July 1968. They were Ronald Webster, Rev Leonard Carty, John Webster, John Rogers, Peter Adams, Walter Hodge, Emile Gumbs, and John Hodge.
  1. Second Anguilla Council. While the Caribbean governments fussed and disagreed among themselves on the best way to resolve the Anguilla crisis, the Anguillians went about preparing for the first elections under their new Constitution. The Beacon Newspaper of 7 October 1967 published a notice advising the electorate that nomination day was fixed for 17 October and that elections were scheduled for 25 October. All Anguillians holding foreign passports were specifically allowed to vote, and civil servants were allowed to contest a seat. When nominations closed on 17 October, five of Ronald Webster’s candidates stood unopposed. Camile Connor and Charles Fleming withdrew from the contest. The five remaining candidates were declared to be duly elected Councilors. They were Ronald Webster, Wallace Rey, Hugo Rey, Collins Hodge, and John Hodge.
  1. When the new Council met on 21 October, Ronald Webster was elected Chairman and Campbell Fleming and John Rogers were named as Nominated Members. At a meeting at the Park the following day, Mr Webster told the crowd that Anguilla was looking for some sort of associated status with Britain or some other Commonwealth country. He emphasised that:
Total independence is only a last resort if all negotiations fail.
  1. United Nations. The Anguillian leaders were also interested in some form of relationship with the United Nations. Professor Fisher wrote a letter of 24 October to the Secretary General appealing for an administrator, an expert in telecommunications, and a financial adviser for Anguilla. His letter was followed up with a meeting between him and Jeremiah Gumbs and the UN Special Committee on Colonialism. The British Government took the view that the Committee of Twenty-four was incompetent to discuss the affairs of an Associated State and refused to participate in the discussions. The Committee decided to send a mission to Anguilla to investigate, but it was unable to visit because the British Government withheld consent.
  1. Senior British Official. On 8 January 1968, direct participation of Britain in the administration of Anguilla began with the consent of the St Kitts Government and the Anguilla Council with the arrival of Mr Tony Lee as the Senior British Official in Anguilla. This was intended to be for what was described as the Interim Period of twelve months.
  1. Advisory Board. In March the Anguilla Council set up an Advisory Board of fourteen members to assist with the running of the island’s affairs[1].
  1. Third Council. On 30 July 1968 new elections were held. There were seven candidates, although the Constitution provided for only five[2]. Negotiations continued between the Anguilla Council and the British and St Kitts governments. They all failed to resolve the crisis because the Anguillians were adamant that they would accept nothing short of complete separation from St Kitts. The British government insisted that under the West Indies Act 1967 they could not change the status of any part of an Associated State without the request and consent of the State legislature.
  1. End of Interim Period. As the end of the Interim Period approached, the Anguilla leaders were split. One faction led by Atlin Harrigan favoured retaining an association with Britain. Another led by Ronald Webster and Wallace Rey favoured a unilateral declaration of independence. The Anguilla Council appealed to the British to extend the Interim Period, but the British refused and on 9 January 1969 Mr Lee departed. The St Kitts government responded to the intransigence of the Anguillians by suspending air and postal services and banning all trade save for food-stuffs and drugs.
  1. Unilateral Declaration of Independence. In the perceived face of rejection by the British Government, the Anguilla Council prepared to hold a referendum on independence. Jack Holcomb, a US citizen living at the time in Anguilla and advising the Council, came up with a new constitution. It was duly approved by the Council and put to the people on 6 February 1969. The result was 1,739 votes in favour of independence and 4 against.
  1. Second Constitution. Jack Holcomb’s Republican Constitution provided for the island to be divided into three constituencies each of which would elect two candidates, and five candidates at large. The President and Vice-President were to be elected in a national election. Elections for the Legislature were to be held on 25 March 1969, while those for the President and Vice President were to be on 3 April.
  1. Republic of Anguilla. When nominations closed on 21 February, Ronald Webster was unopposed and was declared President of the Republic of Anguilla. He chose as his Vice-President Mr Campbell Fleming. Webster’s Cabinet was to include John Webster (a former Secretary of Defence) as Secretary of State for Domestic Affairs and Jeremiah Gumbs as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. On nomination day only six candidates were nominated and they were similarly declared elected unopposed[3].
  1. William Whitlock’s Expulsion. On 11 March 1969, a British envoy, Mr William Whitlock, arrived in Anguilla with proposals for a solution to the Anguilla crisis. His visit was spurred by a resolution passed in Trinidad at the just concluded Fifth Conference of Heads of Government of the Commonwealth Caribbean Countries. This called on Britain to take all necessary steps to confirm the territorial integrity of St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. The British proposal brought by Whitlock was that Anguilla should be administered by Tony Lee as Commissioner to serve for so long as the present difficult situation continued. He would appoint an Advisory Committee to assist him in his capacity as Her Majesty’s Commissioner. These proposals were unacceptable to the Anguillian leaders, and Whitlock was expelled from the island.
  1. British Invasion. During the early hours of 19 March 1969 some three hundred British paratroopers landed, followed by Royal Engineers and London bobbies. The local defence force had handed in their arms the evening before as it had been realised that resistance would be futile and would lead to unnecessary loss of blood. The rebellion was crushed without either side firing a shot. The invading forces distributed a leaflet that contained the fateful line:
It is not our purpose to force you to return to an Administration you do not want.
  1. Third Constitution. Tony Lee was appointed the first Commissioner, and Britain’s direct administration of the island began. He was appointed under an Order in Council of 18 March which authorised him to make by regulation provision for securing and maintaining public safety and public order in Anguilla as part of the Associated State. It gave him sweeping powers to amend, suspend or revoke any law in Anguilla other than the Constitution or the Courts Order. This 1969 Order was the first British Constitutional document that related specifically to Anguilla since the first day of settlement in 1650. It was Anguilla’s third modern constitution.
  1. Caradon Declaration. Tony Lee’s administration was not without opposition. There were several large demonstrations on the island demanding the withdrawal of British forces. Webster and the other leaders refused to cooperate with Lee. Representations were made to the United Nations. In an effort to defuse a highly explosive situation, the British Government dispatched its Ambassador to the United Nations, Lord Caradon[4], to Anguilla to work out an arrangement with the Anguilla Council. The result was the Caradon Declaration which was agreed upon by the Council. It provided for the administration of the island to be conducted by the Commissioner in full consultation and co-operation with the representatives of the people of Anguilla. The results of the 1969 elections were abandoned. The members of the 1968 Third Anguilla Council were recognised as the elected representatives and were to serve as members of the Council. The Declaration repeated that it was no part of the purpose of the British Government to put the Anguillians under an Administration under which they did not want to live. After initial difficulties with establishing working relationships, Tony Lee left Anguilla on 20 April to be replaced by John Cumber who took the important step of recognising Ronald Webster as the leader of the Council.
  1. Wooding Commission. On 18 December 1969 the British Government appointed a Commission of Inquiry under the chairmanship of Sir Hugh Wooding, Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago, to make recommendations for a satisfactory and durable solution to the Anguilla Crisis. By its terms of reference, The Commission was expressly required to find a solution that would “preserve the integrity of the State and prevent further fragmentation of the Caribbean”. Not surprisingly, the Commission’s Report concluded that while reversion to colonial status was out of the question, independence for such a small community was equally unrealistic. The only solution that could be recommended was the preservation of the State under an arrangement which gave the Anguillians a large measure of control over their own affairs. The Anguilla Council immediately passed a resolution rejecting the Report. They would accept nothing less than a complete break with St Kitts.
  1. Godber Proposals. With a change in government in London in 1971, the British Government gradually became more sympathetic to the Anguillian cause, and the Wooding Report became a dead letter. In July 1971, Joseph Godber, the new Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, put to the St Kitts Government a proposal that the State Government delegate to HMG powers which would enable the Commissioner to administer the island for a period of years. The St Kitts Government insisted that the Anguillians were rebels and the British must force them back into the fold of St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. Gun-boats should be sent to do this and measures should be taken to starve the islanders into submission. On the other hand, the Anguillians were prepared to accept nothing short of complete separation from the Associated State. The British were forced to act unilaterally. Their proposals for an interim settlement were accepted by the Anguilla Council. In the words of Ronald Webster:
Anguillians have just accepted Britain to be their partner to work together from now onwards . . . let us move forward together to develop Anguilla.
  1. Reversion to British Administration. Purporting to act under the authority of the West Indies Act, the British Parliament passed the Anguilla Act 1971 to allow it to administer Anguilla. The Act took effect on 27 July 1971. It permitted the Queen in Council to make detailed provision for the administration of Anguilla. HMG was to appoint a Commissioner in Anguilla. The island would cease to be a part of the Associated State in the event of the introduction into the State’s legislature of a Bill for a law terminating the status of association with the UK. The St Kitts Government never accepted that this was a legitimate use of section 3 of the West Indies Act.
  1. The decision of the British Government to proceed unilaterally in this way met with strong condemnation from Caribbean Governments and newspapers. Their reaction prompted the leader of the Anguilla Council, Ronald Webster, to publish a letter in The Times urging the:
Commonwealth Caribbean countries not to interfere in a situation which does not concern them and towards the solution of which they have made no worthwhile contribution.
  1. Fourth Constitution. Anguilla’s fourth modern Constitution was the Anguilla (Administration) Order 1971. It made provision for the Commissioner to work in consultation with the Anguilla Council. This was to consist of seven elected members and up to six nominated members. The role of the Council was not spelled out in the Order, and the Commissioner was vested with complete legal control of the island. Mr Godber gave the Anguillians the assurance that the constitutional arrangements would be reviewed after three years. Anguillians accepted the Order as a temporary settlement even though it was within the framework of the Associated State. They recognised that it was setting the stage for the eventual separation of Anguilla from the rest of the State.
  1. The Anguilla Council of 1972. The first general elections under the Administration Order took place on 24 July 1972. The result was the election of the fourth and last Anguilla Council[5]. Their complete lack of power caused them to go on strike against the Commissioner. The situation was diffused by introducing a committee system whereby certain members of the Council became chairmen of departmental committees. However, when after three years the promised constitutional review did not take place, the Council went on strike again (for a period of fourteen months). Only when the British Government agreed to constitutional concessions did the Council resume work.
  1. Fifth Constitution. In 1976 Anguilla was given a new Constitution. It had been negotiated by the Anguilla Council with representatives of the British Government during the “strike” of the previous year. It came into effect on 10 February 1976, and was Anguilla’s fifth Constitution of the modern era. It provided for the first time for a Ministerial form of government. The Executive Council comprised a Chief Minister and two other ministers and two ex-officio members, the Attorney-General and the Financial Secretary. It was chaired by the Commissioner. There was provision for a Legislative Assembly comprising the Commissioner as Speaker, three ex-officio members, namely the Chief Secretary, the Financial Secretary, and the Attorney-General, and not less than seven elected and two nominated members. The Commissioner was to consult with Executive Council in the formulation of policy and the exercise of all powers conferred upon him by the Constitution. However, he was not obliged to consult with respect to external affairs or internal security, nor on matters relating to the public service. This system extended to the local representatives some of the forms of power while ensuring that the British official retained the substance of power. As Petty puts it in his “Where There’s a Will There’s a Way”:
The Anguillians had fought for direct British Colonialism and they got it in heavy doses.
The 1976 Constitution recognised Anguilla to be still a part of the Associated State of St Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla. However, it was to be separately administered by Britain until such time as the constitutional crisis between Anguilla and the rest of the State could be resolved.
  1. General elections under the 1976 Constitution were held on 15 March 1976[6]. Mr Webster was named Chief Minister, with Emile Gumbs and Albena Lake-Hodge his two ministers. Hubert Hughes was the lone opposition member. By early 1977 Mr Webster had lost the confidence of his government, and when at a 1 February 1977 meeting of the Legislative Assembly Mr Hughes introduced a motion of no confidence only Mr Webster did not support it. The Commissioner revoked Mr Webster’s appointment. Due to the short period that had passed since the previous elections, and because the majority of the Assembly supported the appointment of Emile Gumbs, the Commissioner did not call new elections, but instead appointed Emile Gumbs to be the new Chief Minister. This government lasted until the general elections of 28 May 1980 when Mr Webster and his supporters won six of the seven seats, only Emile Gumbs of the previous administration retaining his seat[7].
  1. The Anguilla Act 1980. In February 1980 the Labour Party administration of Premier Lee Moore in St Kitts was defeated at the polls. The new premier Dr Kennedy Simmonds made it clear that his administration would put no obstacle in the way of change in Anguilla and the Anguillians should be free to decide their own constitutional future. The result was the Anguilla Act 1980 which empowered Her Majesty to separate Anguilla from the State on a day appointed by Order in Council. The Anguilla (Appointed Day) Order duly appointed 19 December 1980 as the day on which Anguilla ceased to be a part of the territory of the Associated State of St Christopher, Nevis and Anguilla.
  1. Mr Webster’s government of May 1980 lasted for barely a year before internal dissension brought it down. After a short period of political instability, he advised the Commissioner to dissolve the Assembly and to hold general elections on 22 June 1981[8]. Mr Webster won his seat and had the support of four of the newly elected representatives. The Commissioner asked him to form the new government. One of the objectives of the new government was to negotiate with the British Government for constitutional advance. Mr Webster was particularly concerned to ensure that the Constitution said that in the event of another vote of no confidence the Commissioner could not appoint a new Chief Minister but must call general elections.
  1. The possibility of constitutional advance was limited in view of the position of the British Government that if a territory aspired to autonomy it must call for independence and set a timetable. It was made clear that Associated Statehood was out of the question, and that any aspiration to such a status would be considered only in the framework of a call for independence.
  1. Sixth Constitution. There was no public consultation on revising the 1976 Constitution. The new Constitution came into effect on 1 April 1982 shortly after it was first seen by the public. It is Anguilla’s sixth modern Constitution. By one view it contains only minor changes to the 1976 Constitution. Others criticize it as the abandonment of full internal self-government and a craven submission, without consultation with the Anguillian public, to naked colonial administration. The position of Commissioner was renamed “Governor” and the Legislative Assembly now became the “House of Assembly”. Additionally, the Commissioner (Governor) ceased to sit as a member of the House of Assembly and the Speaker of the House was chosen by the House and not by the Governor.
  1. The 1982 Constitution left the Governor’s reserved powers virtually intact, though he was now required to consult the Chief Minster on matters relating to internal security and the public service. The Governor also had reserve power to legislate and to administer in case public order has broken down and a state of emergency exists.
  1. Anguilla Constitution (Amendment) Order 1990. In line with local demands for increased autonomy, and after the new 1982 Constitution had been working for only three years, on 2 August 1985 the House of Assembly passed a motion for the Governor to set up a Constitution Review Committee. This Committee was appointed by the Governor in October 1985[9]. The result was the Anguilla Constitution (Amendment) Order 1990. These included new provisions for the creation of the office of Leader of the Opposition and alteration of the definition of Belonger Status. This is the Constitution under which Anguilla is governed to this day.
  1. Anguillians are by and large satisfied that the 1982 Constitution gives them what they want: a large degree of autonomy, with external forces at hand (in the form of a British warship) for the defence of the island, and its representation overseas by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The utility of a British passport to facilitate international travel, study, and work is generally appreciated. Interest in discussing reform is limited to politicians, lawyers and a few others who take a special interest in these matters.
  1. There is a very small group that agitates from time to time for independence to become an issue. Other than a largely dormant website, nothing surfaces except occasionally, usually at the time of general elections or other time of political agitation. The vast majority of Anguillians have made it clear both during the process adopted by the previous Committee, and in representations to the present Commission, that they do not wish to consider the issue of independence. Anguillians are in general consensus that their institutions of democracy are new-born and fragile. The 13 Northern Colonies, by contrast and comparison, declared independence in 1776 after enjoying over 150 years of self-government by both an Assembly and a Council in each of the Colonies. Anguilla has had a bare 40 years of internal self-rule, a Council and an Assembly. Time is still needed for the necessary conventions and practices to form and to firm up, so that the bare bones of the Constitution can come to life, and the people can feel the necessary confidence in their democratic and political institutions to venture out onto the rough and unknown seas of independence under the care of captains not yet on the horizon.
  1. Rifkin Letter. In the year 1996 great consternation was felt across Anguilla when a letter from Malcolm Rifkin, Secretary of State was circulated. It proposed that it might be necessary to increase the powers of the Governor. Its publication was followed by extensive public debate and some public demonstrations against it.
  1. Partnership for Progress. Shortly after, the Conservative government in the UK fell in May 1997. The new Labour administration in London set about making new proposals for the relationship with the Overseas Territories. In March 1999, the British Government published a major policy document that set out the parameters of the relationship. The Secretary of State reiterated the four principles that underlie the partnership as:
First, our partnership must be founded on self-determination . . .
Second, the partnership creates responsibilities on both sides . . .
Third, the people of the Overseas Territories must exercise the greatest possible control over their own lives . . .
Fourth, Britain will continue to provide help to the Overseas Territories that need it . . .
One of the principal outcomes of the Report was the replacement of BDT citizenship with full British citizenship. The Territories were renamed Overseas Territories. The Report makes it clear that Britain’s links to the Territories should be based on a partnership, with obligations and responsibilities on both sides.
  1. Chapter 2 of the Partnership for Progress Report sets out the rationale for constitutional review at this time:
The governance of the territories must have a firm basis. Democracy, human rights and the rule of law are all as relevant in the Overseas Territories as elsewhere. The principles which should underlie modern constitutions are clear. There must be a balance of obligations and expectations, and both should be clearly and explicitly set out:
  1. In March of 2000, there were general elections in Anguilla. The party that came to power was the United Front. In its manifesto it had made a number of promises that involved constitutional reform. These included abolishing the nominated members, increasing the number of ministers, reviewing the provisions for the exercise of responsible government and ministerial authority by elected members, reviewing the policy and law relating to “belongership”, developing codes of conduct for politicians, ministers and members of the Assembly, creating the office of Ombudsman, etc. All these matters involved some sort of constitutional review.
  1. Constitutional and Electoral Reform Committee. Consequently, Mr David Carty was appointed by the Chief Minister, Osborne Fleming, with the task, in the first instance, of raising the consciousness of the Anguillian public about constitutional matters. Mr Carty solicited and recruited the assistance of a distinguished cadre of Anguillian professionals and opinion makers to assist in the awareness-raising effort[10]. They constituted the membership of the Constitutional and Electoral Reform Committee.
  1. Consultative Forum. By October 2001 the Committee had agreed to establish a Consultative Forum. The forum focused its deliberations by dealing with individual chapters of the Constitution on a month-by-month basis. The sessions were open to the public for an interactive discussion with all delegates of the forum who asked questions, made comments and rendered opinions. In addition to the general public, individuals and groups throughout Anguilla were requested to attend in person or through delegates. A series of public presentations were delivered at the Teachers Resource Centre and were broadcast live on Radio Anguilla. They were also videotaped and broadcast on Cable Television. Each month a member of the Committee gave a well researched presentation on a particular chapter of the Constitution.
  1. Town Hall Meetings. The Committee attempted to take the discussion to a wider public by holding Town Hall meetings out in the districts. Between June and October 2003 some one dozen public meetings were held. These meetings were similarly not well attended. Interest in Anguilla, then as now, on issues relating to constitutional and electoral reform was limited. The most popular issues to emerge were (1) electoral reform, (2) belonger status, (3) where does real authority in government lie, and (4) voter eligibility.
  1. Report of the Committee. The work of the Committee appears to have fizzled out. There does not seem to have been an official or clear decision to bring its work to an end. It simply stopped meeting. Some have reported to the members of this Commission that this was due to lack of interest. Others have reported that it was as a result of a Committee of Twenty-Four meeting which criticized the British Government for the way it was handling the whole issue of constitutional reform in the Overseas Territories. Whatever the reason, the Committee never finished its work and made no recommendations for constitutional reform. Its Chairman in May 2005 published a Report consisting of a record of the various speeches and transcripts of meetings together with an Overview in which he recommended the setting up of a new Commission with clear terms of reference and with timelines for completion. The Chairman has been heavily criticized in the media by members of his Committee who claimed that they had never been shown the Report in advance and had not agreed to it. Some members of the Committee subsequently urged the public to boycott the Commission, and themselves refused to play any further part in the exercise or constitutional review and reform.
  1. Separation Day Speech 2005. On 19 December 2005, HE the Governor Mr Alan Huckle made a speech in which he announced that the Government had decided to start up a new Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission to start work in early 2006. He explained that he was then consulting with members of the Opposition and representatives of non-governmental organisations about the membership of the Commission. He explained that the new Commission would build on the work of the previous Committee and seek to establish the broadest possible agreement on those areas which might be reformed.
  1. Appointment of the Commission. The Governor set up the Commission on 21 January 2006. His letter of appointment established its terms of reference. The members consisted of Rev Cecil Weekes, Stanley Reid as Secretary, Chanelle Petty-Barrett, Grace Carty, Calvert Carty, Claude Romney, and myself as Chairman. Ms Maria Reid of the Treasury Department was appointed Executive Secretary.
  1. We met for the first time on 7 February and weekly thereafter mainly on Tuesdays at the Speaker’s Conference room, access to which was by kind permission of the Speaker of the House. We kept minutes of all our meetings and circulated them regularly to all members. We used the email extensively for communicating.
  1. As recommended in our terms of reference, we proceeded to review all reports and transcripts of speeches and radio and television presentations made on the subject of constitutional reform in Anguilla over the previous 5 years. We also reviewed the Constitutions of other British Overseas Territories and the Reports prepared by their Constitutional Reform Commissions. For convenience, we have divided up the areas of the Constitution between ourselves for writing first drafts of recommendations. We prepared them initially based on the work of the earlier Committee. Consultation with the public has been extensive and unremitting. Our drafts have been circulated widely. We handed out copies at all public and private meetings. We posted them in full on the Commission’s website. The issues were the subject of discussion on the website and at all public and private meetings.
  1. As an essential part of our terms of reference, we went into the community and consulted with citizens and residents as to their thoughts on constitutional reform. Although attendance at public meetings has been disappointing, members of the public in meetings with groups and NGOs have indicated general satisfaction with the transparent way in which the Commission has worked. The drafts have gone through a number of evolutions as comments came in. The revised drafts were repeatedly published and discussed publicly. The latest drafts together with any further comments and recommendations received from the public will form the basis of the Commission’s final Report.
  1. The Commission agreed early in its deliberations that it would make every effort to meet the six-month target given to us. For planning purposes we set an initial deadline of four months to review all the issues, prepared discussion papers, seek the reaction of the public, and make a final report. In the event, it has become necessary to extend the time we are giving ourselves. It now looks as though we will not be ready to present our final Report until late in July.
  1. In conclusion, the latest draft of the recommendations that the Commission is considering is ready for distribution. The Commission has not as yet agreed on the final Report. The draft that you have is a compilation of the various proposals that members of the Commission have made to the Commission. They are still out in the public domain for comment and amendment. We invite you to take home a copy with you and to read it carefully. We look forward to hearing from you with any suggestions or recommendations you may wish to make.
  1. Thank you, and now I shall be happy to take questions.



[1] The Advisory Board comprised Tony Lee, John Webster, Calvin Hodge, Emile Gumbs, Alfred Webster, Atlin Harrigan, Walter Hodge, Lucas Wilson, Camile Connor, Lewis Haskins, Joseph A Webster, Clement Daniels, Wallace Richardson, and Charles Fleming.
[2] Those elected were Ronald Webster, Atlin Harrigan, Kenneth Hazel, Collins Hodge, John Hodge, Wallace Rey, and Emile Gumbs.
[3] They were Winston Harrigan, Lucas Wilson, Uriel Sasso, James Woods, Charles Fleming, and Mac Connor.
[4] Formerly the British politician, Sir Hugh Foot.
[5] Those elected to the fourth Anguilla Council were Ronald Webster, Evans Harrigan, Reuben Hodge, Wallace Rey, Emile Gumbs, Camile Connor, and John Hodge.
[6] Elected to the first Legislative Assembly were Ronald Webster, Campbell Fleming, Idalia Gumbs, Albena Lake-Hodge, Emile Gumbs, Hubert Hughes, and John Hodge.
[7] Elected to the second Legislative Assembly were Ronald Webster, Nashville Webster, Watkins Hodge, Claudius M Roberts, Emile Gumbs, Hubert Hughes, and Albert Hughes. Those nominated were Euton Smith and Connell Harrigan.
[8] Those elected to the third Legislative Assembly were Nashville Webster, Osborne Fleming, Victor Banks, Ronald Webster, Emile Gumbs, Maurice Connor, and John Hodge.
[9] Its members were Attorney-General Richard Whitehead, Speaker Atlin Harrigan, Clement Daniels, Rev Leonard Carty, and Miriam Gumbs.
[10] They included Dame Bernice Lake QC, Colville Petty OBE, Franklin Connor OBE, Dr Phyllis Fleming-Banks, Timothy Hodge, Alex Richardson, Davon Carty, Stanley Reid, and Louise Hazell as executive secretary.
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