Pursuing and Managing Greater Responsibility Perspectives on the Localisation of the post of Deputy Governor of Anguilla by Mr. Stanley Reid OBE

anguillian
By anguillian June 6, 2017 09:40

 

 

 

Introduction

Fifty years after the Anguilla Revolution consideration must be given to whether we are developing institutions, which demonstrate our growth as a people. Changes surrounding the post of Deputy Governor of Anguilla will be considered in this context. Are recent changes, in relation to the post of Deputy Governor of Anguilla, reflective of real progress in the context of the development of self-governance in Anguilla?
The post of Deputy Governor as currently constituted was created by the 1990 amendment to the Anguilla Constitution. The person appointed to the post of Governor of Anguilla has to date always been a British official employed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). This was also the situation between 1990 and June 2006 in relation to the post of Deputy Governor. However, the position in the other British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean was different. In the Virgin Islands the post of Deputy Governor was created in 1977 and from inception has been occupied by a native Virgin Islander. The post of Deputy Governor was created in the Cayman Islands, Montserrat and the Turks & Caicos Islands since 2000 and in these territories a native of the relevant territory has occupied the post from creation.
In 2005, fifteen (15) years after the post of Deputy Governor was created in the Anguilla Constitution, it was determined that when the serving Deputy Governor, Mr Mark Capes, concluded his term of office in 2006 the post would be filled by a Belonger of Anguilla (an ‘Anguillian’), who would be employed by the Government of Anguilla (GoA). At the end of the recruitment process, utilised to select Mr Capes’ successor, I was accorded the privilege of serving in the post of Deputy Governor in this new dispensation.

Resulting Changes

Maturity, circumspection, mutual respect and sometimes forthrightness on the part of GoA officials and FCO officials all had to be employed in order to successfully navigate the new and developing relationship. For the first time an Anguillian Deputy Governor employed by the GoA had been appointed to assist a British Governor employed by the FCO. It was immediately obvious that the Deputy Governor would not be required to assist the Governor in relation to all aspects of the Governor’s duties; for the appointment of an Anguillian Deputy Governor was not the only change which occurred in the Governor’s Office in 2006. Rather the FCO created the post of Head of Governor’s Office (HoGO), later styled Chief of Staff (CoS) and gave the holder of that post the responsibility to assist the Governor in relation to duties pertaining to international obligations, security issues and financial services. These were the same areas where a British appointed Deputy Governor previously assisted the Governor in addition to the management of the Anguilla Public Service. The Anguillian Deputy Governor assumed delegated authority for the management of the Anguilla Public Service as well as responsibility for the newly established Disaster Management Office.
The lack of meaningful and regular exposure in the areas of international obligations, security issues and financial services could potentially result in rather awkward situations when the Deputy Governor is required to act as Governor and assumes the constitutional responsibility and authority of the Governor. It is on such occasions that maturity, circumspection, mutual respect and forthrightness, became essential in determining the appropriate response to these potentially awkward situations.
Having considered the above observations one is naturally driven to examine whether the localising of the post of Deputy Governor has been a mere sop or is it truly a reflection of a nation coming of age? Currently the answer to this question lies in the relationship between Governor and Deputy Governor. That relationship is framed in the context of our constitutional provisions, which are examined below.

Governor, Deputy Governor and their Constitutional Relationship

The Constitution of Anguilla gives legitimacy to the positions of Governor and Deputy Governor in sections 19 and 19A of that document. Additionally section 19(A) is instructive in clarifying the role of the Deputy Governor and the relationship between the Governor and Deputy Governor.

The Governor

S. 19 (1) There shall be a Governor of Anguilla, who shall be appointed by Her Majesty and hold office during Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Office of Deputy Governor

S. 19A (1) There shall be a Deputy Governor who shall be appointed by the Governor in pursuance of instructions given by Her Majesty through a Secretary of State and shall hold office during Her Majesty’s pleasure.

(2) Subject to the provisions of subsection (3) of this section, the Deputy Governor shall assist the Governor in the exercise of his functions relating to matters for which he is responsible under this Constitution.

(3) The Governor, acting in his discretion, may by writing under his hand authorize the Deputy Governor to exercise for and on behalf of the Governor, subject to such exceptions and conditions as the Governor may from time to time specify any or all of the functions of the office of Governor.

(4) The powers and authority of the Governor shall not be affected by any authority of the Deputy Governor under subsection (3) of this section and, subject to the provisions of this Constitution and of any law by which any function which the Deputy Governor is authorized to exercise is conferred, the Deputy Governor shall comply with instructions relating to the exercise of that function as the Governor, acting in his discretion, may from time to time address to him:
Provided that the question whether or not the Deputy Governor has in any matter complied with such instructions shall not be enquired into in any court.

(5) Any authority given under subsection (3) of this section may at any time be varied or revoked by Her Majesty by instructions given through a Secretary of State or by the Governor, acting in his discretion, by writing under his hand.

Sections 19 (1) and 19A (1) establish the offices of Governor and Deputy Governor and 19(A) in its entirety sets out the relationship between the Governor and the Deputy Governor. The Deputy Governor is to assist the Governor in the exercise of his functions. The Governor may specifically authorise the Deputy Governor to exercise any or all of the functions of the Governor, subject to any exceptions and conditions the Governor may impose. It is clear that the Deputy Governor’s role depends entirely on the ambit allowed by the Governor in relation to the areas over which the Governor has constitutional authority. This is clear in the context of the management of the public service, which is a primary area for which the Governor has constitutional responsibility. The Deputy Governor is generally accorded delegated responsibility for the management of the public service and the Constitution clearly states that such responsibility can be circumscribed as the Governor sees fit.

Is the current constitutional arrangement sufficient or after more than ten (10) years is it time to seek constitutional autonomy for an Anguillian Deputy Governor? It is expected that the interests and desires of the Governor and Deputy Governor will at times be at variance, in relation to what British officials perceive as best for Anguilla, particularly where there might be potential contingency implications for the British. In those circumstances one can appreciate why in certain areas the presence of a HoGO or CoS might be perceived as essential support for the Governor. I, however, consider it unacceptable for the Deputy Governor who should invariably be more appreciative of and, therefore, more responsive to the Anguillian culture and psyche to be subjected, in the management of the public service, to the vagaries of an appointed FCO official.

What next?

If one concludes that it is time to seek constitutional autonomy for an Anguillian Deputy Governor, what provisions should we expect to see in a revised Anguilla Constitution?
A key provision would be the entrenchment in the Constitution of the requirement that the post of Deputy Governor be filled by an ‘Anguillian’. This is not novel as the constitutions of all the other British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean contain a provision mandating that the Deputy Governor be a native of the relevant Overseas Territory.
As referenced earlier, the extent of the role of the Deputy Governor is totally reliant on the willingness of the Governor to accord certain responsibilities to the Deputy Governor and to allow the Deputy Governor to regularly exercise those responsibilities unhindered. Placing sole reliance on the Governor to act in a manner which would make the role of the Anguillian Deputy Governor meaningful does not suggest real advancement. This can be remedied by ensuring that the Constitution recognises the Deputy Governor as the head of the Anguilla Public Service, with all the attendant responsibilities and authority. This would serve as a tangible step towards according Anguillians greater control over their own destiny and greater autonomy in relation to the island’s governance structures. These tangible and incremental constitutional changes can be viewed as part of our preparation for the achievement of the ultimate – Independence.

Conclusion

The appointment of an Anguillian to the post of Deputy Governor since 2006 reflects progress in Anguilla’s bid for greater self-governance. This progress, however, remains tenuous while the appointment and the scope of responsibility and authority are determined by the vagaries of FCO appointed Governors. It is my firm belief that real progress will be realised when our Constitution mandates the appointment of an Anguillian and accords that individual autonomy in relation to the management of the Anguilla Public Service. The draft Constitution resulting from the most recent Constitutional & Electoral Exercise, while recognising in section 32 that the Deputy Governor will assist the Governor in the exercise of his functions explicitly provides in subsection (2) that – “The Deputy Governor shall be head of the Public Service and shall be responsible for the administration of any department of government, ….” Section 30 provides that the Deputy Governor shall be an Anguillian. The current constitutional exercise affords us an opportunity to make this a reality and to include checks and balances reflective of a maturing nation.

Will we pursue and prevail?

Stanley E. Reid was appointed to the post of Deputy Governor of Anguilla, in July 2006. He demitted office in June 2016 and now serves as the Principal of his Legal and Consultancy Practice, SER Legal & Consultancy Services.

anguillian
By anguillian June 6, 2017 09:40

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