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Caribbean Islands Index

The Governmental System

In the late 1980s, all three territories remained British dependencies. British officials were responsible for defense and foreign relations, and local elected officials were responsible for most internal affairs except security. As mentioned, the British Virgin Islands and Montserrat were crown colonies, and Anguilla was an associated state. Because of their links to Britain, all three territories were part of the Commonwealth of Nations (see Appendix B).

A new constitution was introduced in the British Virgin Islands in April 1967. An amended Constitution took effect on June 1, 1977, giving local citizens more extensive self-government. Under its terms, the British-appointed governor is responsible for defense and internal security, external affairs, terms and conditions of service of public officers, and administration of the courts. The governor also possesses reserved legislative powers over matters affecting his or her special responsibilities. There is an Executive Council, with the governor as chairman, one ex officio member (the attorney general), a chief minister (the leader of the elected members of the Legislative Council) who has responsibility for finance, and three other ministers (appointed by the governor on the advice of the chief minister). The Executive Council makes administrative decisions and oversees public agencies. Finally, there is a Legislative Council, consisting of a speaker (chosen from outside the council), one ex officio member (the attorney general), and nine members elected from single-member districts. The Legislative Council makes laws and ordinances. The voting age is eighteen. Elections are held at least once every five years.

Anguilla is administered under the Anguilla Constitution Order of 1982 and the Constitution, which took effect on April 1, 1982. Government arrangements are similar to those in the British Virgin Islands. The British monarch is represented locally by a governor, who presides over the Executive Council and the House of Assembly. The governor is responsible for defense, external affairs, internal security (including the police), the public service, the judiciary, and the audit. On matters of internal security (including the police), the public service, and the appointment of an acting governor, however, the governor is required to consult the chief minister before making major decisions. The Executive Council consists of the chief minister and not more than three other ministers (appointed by the governor from the elected members of the House of Assembly) and two ex officio members (the attorney general and the permanent secretary for finance). The House of Assembly is elected for five years by universal adult suffrage and consists of seven elected members, two ex officio members (the attorney general and the permanent secretary for finance), and two other members who are nominated by the governor after consultation with the chief minister. There is provision for a speaker.

Montserrat's Constitution took effect on January 1, 1960. The territory is governed by a British-appointed governor and has its own Executive Council and Legislative Council. As in the other two territories, the governor is responsible for defense, external affairs, and internal security. The Executive Council consists of the governor as president, the chief minister and three other ministers, the attorney general, and the secretary for finance. The Legislative Council consists of a speaker chosen outside the council, seven elected members, two official members, and two appointed members.

The Eastern Caribbean States Supreme Court is the principal judicial body for all three territories. Appeals can be made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.

Data as of November 1987



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