12 August, 2010
We are looking at my preliminary views on Kate Sullivan’s Initial Recommendations for constitutional and electoral reform for the Turks & Caicos Islands. I urge you to read them if you have not already done so. It may not be long before they are being proposed for Anguilla. That should concern all of us.
Yesterday we looked in 5 numbered paragraphs at the historical documents that established the interest of the British Government and the governments and people of the British Overseas Territories in establishing the three principles of transparency, accountability and the rule of law in all of our Overseas Territories. We now continue at paragraph six.
 It is in the light of these three underlying principles that one reads what Ms Sullivan sets out as some of the features of the TCI Constitution that are not to be the subject of the current review. She lists them as:
· That the executive authority – that is, the power to govern – is held by The Queen;
· That the Governor is appointed by The Queen on the advice of UK Ministers and that the Governor exercises the executive authority on behalf of The Queen;
· That the Queen retains the power to legislate for all matters of government in the Islands, including those that are the responsibility of elected ministers; and
· That certain responsibilities – defined in the current Constitution as the ‘special responsibilities’ – are retained by the Governor and are not subject to the control of elected TCI ministers, but are subject to Constitutional limitation in their exercise, including through the fundamental rights provisions;
· That the Governor will retain the power to legislate for some matters of government in the Islands, as long as these matters are specified in the Constitution.
 One reads the above words with a mounting sense of concern and dismay. Points 3 and 5 are particularly disturbing. The Queen will retain the power to legislate for matters that are the responsibility of elected ministers? And, the Governor will retain the power to legislate for some matters of government?
One would have thought that by now the FCO legal advisers were aware that an undemocratic form of government is the opposite of good governance. Bad governance has flourished in the Overseas Territories under the supervision and tutelage of the FCO. When unelected officials have the power to legislate in place of elected members of a House of Assembly, that is no assurance of an improvement. Local politicians may not have the highest integrity, morals or standards. But, at least they are accountable to the electorate.
Foreign officials are not accountable. Some of them are incompetent and others do not have a care for the interests of the people they are supposed to help govern. When power is transferred from the elected ministers to the Governor, we depend for good governance on the character of the man, not on an institution designed to guarantee democracy and good governance. A strong and fair Governor may well do no harm and may do some good. A weak and accommodating Governor is unlikely to make good use of his increased powers.
The whole notion of replacing democracy by the arbitrary rule of one individual is offensive.
To be continued …