HL Deb 02 December 1980 vol 415 cc329-42

2.55 p.m.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. Your Lordships may find it helpful if I briefly review the events which form the background to the legislation now before you. Under the terms of the West Indies Act which came into operation in February 1967, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla became an associated state with the United Kingdom, as did certain other of our former colonies in the Eastern Caribbean. The main effect of the constitutional development was to give internal self-government to these states, with the United Kingdom retaining responsibility for their external affairs and defence. Unfortunately, the move towards associated statehood caused longstanding differences between St. Kitts and Anguilla to come to a head in May 1967. Anguillan islanders, having said categorically that they would not be ruled by St. Kitts, forced the St. Kitts police contingent to leave the island.

Repeated attempts in succeeding months by the United Kingdom Government and by the Governments of independent Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean, failed to reconcile the differences between the islands. A visit to St. Kitts and Anguilla at the end of 1967 by representatives of Government and Opposition parties in the House of Commons facilitated an interim arrangement under which a British official was installed in Anguilla in January 1968. Talks that year in London between all parties concerned failed to find any new solution and the Anguillans reiterated their declaration of independence in January 1969 when it became necessary to withdraw the British official from the island. An attempt shortly afterwards by the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to obtain Anguillan agreement to the installation of a British Commissioner who could administer the island ended, as your Lordships will undoubtedly recall, in the Minister's abrupt departure and the subsequent landing of British troops and police on the island.

Only against this background was it possible to instal a commissioner. The Wooding Commission, set up jointly by Her Majesty's Government and the State Government to consider the problem, made strenuous efforts to find a solution. The recommendations in their report providing, inter alia, for an elected Council in Anguilla holding certain legislative, executive and fiscal authority and presented to Parliament in November 1970 (Cmnd. 4510) were, however, rejected by the Anguillans.

It became increasingly clear that the differences between the State Government and the Anguillans were irreconcilable and that a satisfactory basis had to be found to enable the British Commissioner effectively to administer the island. Her Majesty's Government were thus obliged to introduce legislation unilaterally in the form of the 1971 Anguilla Act. The then Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs said in introducing that legislation in another place that he hoped the House would "recognise the need to bring an end to the events of the last four years and to provide the opportunity for a fresh start". He also said that the intention was "to provide effective administration for a period of years to enable tempers to cool". Under the terms of the 1971 Anguilla Act, a new constitution was prepared for Anguilla and the Anguilla (Constitution) Order came into operation on 10th February 1976. Although this overrode the constitution of the associated state of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, it did not annul it and the formal integrity of the state was thus preserved.

Throughout this period the British Government continued to try to persuade the St. Kitts Government to accept the reality of Anguilla's separate status and to find some constitutional method of separating the island which the then-Premier, Mr. Bradshaw, would find acceptable. It was not possible to do so before Mr. Bradshaw's death in May 1978. Meanwhile, the Anguillans continued to leave no doubt that they would not accept the authority of St. Kitts either as an associated or independent state but that they wished to preserve for their island a direct relationship with Britain. Mr. Bradshaw's successors accepted the principle of formal separation of Anguilla.

The previous British Government gave an assurance to the Anguillans last year, which they accepted and which the present British Government subsequently reaffirmed, that outstanding constitutional issues affecting Anguilla would be resolved by the end of 1979. This deadline appeared to have been met when, during constitutional discussion in London last December with the St. Kitts Government, the latter agreed to introduce the necessary separation motion in the St. Kitts Legislature early in 1980. This would have enabled the Order in Council to have been passed under Section 9(1)(B) of the West Indies Act 1967. However, the general election in St. Kitts-Nevis in February this year brought a different Government to office. It is a coalition Government and the constituent parties conform with the traditional definition of the term coalition and both "retain their own principles". There is nothing wrong with that. But the coalition Government have different priorities from their predecessors in office. While they are in no way opposed to the separation of Anguilla from the associated state they would prefer, at this relatively early stage of their Government, when they wish to give their attention to various other matters, that Her Majesty's Government handle this matter themselves. Given our commitment to the Anguillans, we cannot put off the formal separation of the island until a convenient opportunity arrives for the St. Kitts Legislature to take the necessary action. That is why I am obliged to take up your Lordships' time with this Bill today. The important thing is that the action which we are taking in the legislation before your Lordships today has the full support both of the Anguillans and the St. Kitts Government.

Your Lordships will note that the Bill is short. I hope that you will also find it straightforward and self-explanatory. If enacted, the Bill will permit Her Majesty in Council to make the further provisions for the future status and administration of Anguilla that we consider to be necessary at this time. The first subsection of Clause 1 empowers Her Majesty in Council to separate Anguilla from the associated state of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla on a day to be appointed by Order in Council. The second subsection of Clause 1 makes provision for the future constitutional development of Anguilla and the attainment of independent status. For this purpose, the fourth subsection of Clause 1 ensures that draft Orders in Council receive the approval of each House of Parliament before submission to Her Majesty.

The Anguilla Act of 1971, to which I have already referred, is repealed by subsection (5) of Clause 1 but subsection (6) ensures that Orders in Council which have been made under that Act and the appointment under that Act of the commissioner shall not be affected by this repeal. Provided that the Bill before your Lordships is duly passed into law and the necessary order made under Clause 1(1), Anguilla will assume the status of a separate dependent territory of the United Kingdom. Thereafter, it will be for the Government and people of Anguilla to determine whether they wish to continue their present constitutional relationship with Her Majesty's Government—which has existed, de facto, for nearly 10 years—or become a fully independent state. Though there has been no indication that Anguilla intends to seek independence at an early date, Clause 1(3) of the Bill, as I have said, makes provision for the several constitutional options on independence which may be exercised in the future. At present, under the provisions of the Anguilla (Constitution) Order 1976, the Anguilla Government enjoys a large measure of autonomy in internal affairs. On formal separation, minor consequential amendments will require to be made to the present constitution order, and it is expected that, with the agreement of the Anguilla Government, the opportunity will be taken to devolve a further modest measure of local autonomy while retaining the ultimate authority of the Crown for the conduct of affairs on the island. Thereafter, in accordance with the policy of successive British Governments, further constitutional advance will only take place in the context of an agreed timetable for independence.

In considering the provisions for Anguilla's constitutional future, it is necessary to pay regard to the island's economy. Since the passing of the Anguilla Act in 1971, Her Majesty's Government have not only supported the territory's annual recurrent budget but have also made available aid funds to remedy the many years of neglect and to provide an acceptable level of infrastructure. Schools have been built or rebuilt, roads sealed and the airport improved. Work is now in progress to increase electricity generating capacity and to extend the distribution system. Attention will be paid to the need to ensure adequate supplies of fresh water. Without any natural resources other than a warm climate and fine beaches, the creation of a sound economy will depend to a very large extent on the development of tourism. In the past year or two, with aid funds being used to provide the required infrastructure, private investors have commenced the construction of a number of hotels and holiday villas. It is expected that tourism will shortly begin to make a significant and growing contribution to the island's economy, thus eliminating the need for continued budgetary support and, at the same time, providing much needed employment.

Anguilla may be small but, perhaps for this reason, it has many friends not only in the Caribbean but also, I know, in this country and in all parts of your Lordships' House. They will, I believe, welcome this Bill as marking not only the end of a brief and occasionally stormy period in the island's history but also the beginning of a new status and relationship which will ensure that the island's future will rest securely with the Government and people of Anguilla. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Trefgarne.)

3.3 p.m.

Lord Goronwy-Roberts

My Lords, I do not think that the House will wish to raise any objection to the passage of this Bill, which the noble Lord has described as being an enabling Bill and really one which does not confer independence on any part of the associated state of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla but to provide for the detachment of Anguilla from the associated state as it was constituted some 15 years ago so that in due course, if the people and authority of Anguilla so desire, they may take the necessary steps in conjunction with us towards independence.

I think I am right in defining the Bill as being one for the detachment in a dependent status of Anguilla from another dependent associated state. Even so, although this is an important step as compared with the confirment of independence, which would raise acute constitutional and economic questions, nevertheless it is heartening to realise that what flows from this Bill, even in regard to the creation of a separate Anguilla—albeit in a dependent position—will be subject to the process of approval by both Houses of Parliament for Orders in Council laid on behalf of Her Majesty before the two Houses.

In agreeing to the passage of this Bill, therefore, this House and another place will not even be finally agreeing to the detachment of Anguilla in a dependent situation, although that is not to say that this is what we ought to do when the two Orders in Council come before us. I personally think—and I hope the House and the other place will find it possible to agree at that time—that this is what we ought to do. However, the noble Lord has quite rightly reminded us that in fragmenting further what was in any case a fragment of the Caribbean, an area where federation and association has proved very difficult and, in most cases, impossible to achieve, in the associated states of the three countries we are prospectively creating mini-states in relation to membership of international organisations. It is true that mini-states can qualify for associate membership of, for instance, the United Nations and its relevant agencies.

However, at this early stage, I think that it is right that we should ponder carefully the implications even of the detachment of this small island from the existing associated state because, as the Bill makes clear, it is the precursor of full-fledged independence. We shall therefore wish to discuss the Orders in Council more closely than most of us are inclined to do today when they are laid before this House.

I shall merely underline one or two things which the Minister has quite rightly put to the House. For instance, we must be careful that even an expansion of internal autonomy in Anguilla does not so overburden its own resources in manpower and otherwise that indeed it is unable to sustain in an orderly fashion—and I use the term "orderly" advisedly in view of fairly recent history—internal self-rule of an expanded nature quite as easily as we all hope it will. Very great care will have to be paid to whatever added powers the Minister thought might be extended to Anguilla when we do move by Order in Council to confer this detached status upon it. We shall need to be given details of how much, and for how long, we shall be giving aid to Anguilla even in a dependent capacity, always looking to the future, when even this small island may very well become an independent republic, as the Bill suggests.

The second point I want to make is this. What will be the impact of fragmentation, the detachment of Anguilla from St. Kitts-Nevis or indeed the remnant of the associated state on St. Kitts-Nevis? To that extent, resources of all kinds will be less. The law of comparative costs will apply in a negative way to the new truncated associated states. What will be the impact on that state if and when it moves in the direction of independence? One envisages a movement in St. Kitts-Nevis towards independence, especially if Anguilla moves in that direction. This is the nature of things in the Caribbean.

The only other point I want to put concerns Clause 1(2) of the Bill. This seems to my untutored eye to be a little vague. It says: Her Majesty may by Order in Council make such provision as appears to Her expedient for and in connection with the government of Anguilla". I take that to refer to the arrangements contained in the necessary Orders in Council for the creation of a dependent state, separated from the present associated states and in present relationship with the United Kingdom. It does not refer to an intention by the United Kingdom to lay down the basis of government for Anguilla. It is not, surely, our intention to ensure that the Government of Anguilla as it evolves shall follow a pattern laid down by us. In these matters we hope and expect that democratic procedures are adopted and maintained after a new status is attained.

3.11 p.m.

Lord Glenamara

My Lords, I should like to say just one word about this Bill and to make two points about it. First of all, I very much welcome this Bill. The initial constitutional arrangement obviously could not stand. The distance between Anguilla on the one hand and St. Kitts and Nevis on the other hand was far too great; and so I am very glad indeed that the separation has come.

The Bill itself looks forward to independence for this small pastoral community. I do not believe that is the right solution. The obvious solution on the ground—it may not be so obvious here in the Palace of Westminster—is for some kind of federation between Anguilla and the nearby French and Dutch colonies. They can be seen across a narrow strip of water from Anguilla. Britain, Holland and France are members of the European Community. If the European Community means anything, it is surely not beyond its wit and ingenuity to devise some kind of constitutional arrangement to bring these three colonies together. It is quite ridiculous that this legacy of colonialism should be perpetuated by having three colonies: one British, one French and one Dutch, all moving towards independence, none of which can be viable on its own. Surely the unity in Europe could be translated into a unity among the three colonies of these three European countries.

The only other point I should like to make is this. The noble Lord looked forward to tourism as being the basis of the economy. Anguilla is a very small and very poor island, almost purely pastoral, without any town at all. I believe that tourism, important though it is, is an unreliable and undignified kind of basis for a community and for an economy. I hope that the noble Lord will speak to his right honourable friend in ODM, if it still exists—I think it does in some form or other—to try to give more help to the development of agriculture in Anguilla. That would be a reliable long-term basis for a community in the Caribbean. Tourism, important though it is, is not. It is because so many islands in the Caribbean are trying to base their economy entirely on tourism that they are coming to grief.

So I welcome this Bill and I hope that the noble Lord will look at the two points I have made: first about Britain, France and Holland coming together, with the Anguillans, of course. Secondly, I say: please do not rely entirely on tourism. The development of the agricultural and fishing industries is the only basis for a sound economy.

3.15 p.m.

Lord Northfield

My Lords, I intervene in this debate because I was part of the history which the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, referred to at the beginning of his speech. He mentioned that in 1967–68 representatives of the Government and Opposition were sent to Anguilla to obtain a temporary settlement. I was one of the two who went out there; and in fact we were not representatives of the Government and Opposition. It was a most strange thing—something which I do not think had ever occurred before. My noble friend Lord Shepherd, who was then, I think, at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, approached Sir Nigel Fisher, the distinguished Member of Parliament for Surbiton, and myself because of our knowledge of and connections with the Caribbean. He asked us to go to Anguilla to try to effect a settlement of the situation.

It was a very interesting mission. I may tell your Lordships that it was quite amusing, and indeed melodramatic. I remember landing by plane and being surrounded by armed Anguillans. We did not know they were all carrying revolvers at the time, but they made it pretty clear to us afterwards that if we had brought troops we would have been shot out of the ground. Secondly, we had our own radio man and were in daily contact with the Foreign Office in London. We were from Government but not of Government, so we were not really representatives of the Government or Opposition. We were most unusual emissaries of Her Majesty's Government, sent to get a settlement in this island.

When our settlement was agreed—and it took a great deal of persuasion of Mr. Ronald Webster and all the others who are now minor figures of history in the revolt—and ever since it was agreed, I have kept my peace over all the events that have occurred since. Today I want to speak about the history of these 12 years and make some very direct comments about it.

But, before doing that, let us just agree with my noble friend Lord Glenamara that the problem is not something of the making of St. Kitts. These three islands, St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla, were thrown together in colonial days and the possible friction that might have occurred between them did not show up while it was a colony because they were administered by Britain and were not, in a sense, sharing the government of their own state. The difference came when associated statehood, which was a sort of mini independence system that we introduced in the 1960s, made them have to live together and share problems.

The real historic differences between the islands then came to light. St. Kitts is a sugar island, very black in its population, with the people descended from the slaves who were brought there. Anguilla, many miles away across the ocean, and not virtually connected to St. Kitts as Nevis is, has a population which is really descended from pirates and seafarers and certainly very few slaves. Their economies are totally different. St. Kitts is mainly sugar and very little else. Anguilla is just a barren coral island. I am sorry to have to say to my noble friend Lord Glenamara that there is not much chance of improving agriculture there. It is so dry and barren that nothing very much will grow, except in one or two valleys and hills on the very small island.

These Anguillans are not like the Nevitians and the Kittitians at all. They are, by instinct, seafarers and travellers. Many of them live in parts of England now, I think, and they all travel to and fro from their island, almost by nature as travellers. A great deal of the economy of Anguilla is sustained by remittances from Anguillans in this country. The differences came to light when they had to share common problems in an associated state.

Nor was it a case of the Anguillans being neglected and downtrodden by those horrid Kittitians, as was said at the time—not at all. In effect, to use modern jargon, it was virtually a middle-class revolution. They felt themselves better off than the Kittitians and resented the low standards of communications and other things in their island. They were wanting something a great deal better. As a result of travel, their expectations were a good deal higher than those of the black, sugar-plantation population of St. Kitts. It was not neglect; it was greater expectations which formed the real difference when the mini-revolution took place. So that is the background.

I come now to the history of my own small involvement. I have kept quiet since the situation deteriorated after we had negotiated the interim settlement, because I thought it was the best thing to do in order that tempers should not be inflamed. But I want to tell your Lordships what we said to the people of Anguilla when we were over there for Her Majesty's Government. We were told to tell the Anguillans: "Look, you cannot have independence, for one very simple reason in international law. Britain has legislated to make you independent as part of a state, and once a sovereign country like Britain has legislated to make you sovereign, in this sense, we have no further power to legislate on your behalf." We went over this with the lawyers at the Foreign Office, who begged us to make this clear over and over again to the people of Anguilla.

Secondly, we had to keep in mind all the time a point raised by my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts, that if this attempted independence were to succeed, there would be grave dangers throughout the rest of the Caribbean. There would be Barbuda, as is now the case, proposing—I will not put it higher than that; "pestering" would perhaps be a good word—independence from Antigua. One day we would have Carriacou wanting to be independent from Grenada. So the story could go on, with mini-fragmentation throughout the Caribbean, as we were told to tell the Anguillans, if we once gave way on Anguilla. When this settlement broke down, we got in a British administrator, we left goodwill all round and we left the Foreign Office to build on the interim settlement which we achieved.

I now want to say, bluntly, that I think the history of these last 12 years was, first, a history of failure by the Foreign Office. On the basis of the interim settlement which we achieved at that time the Foreign Office could have had a permanent solution, keeping the three islands together in a loose federation. But during that year after we had achieved the settlement very little was done; the situation deteriorated; initiatives which we took were not followed up; the Anguillans were not made to feel that the British Government were caring about building on what we had agreed; and the Foreign Office began then, after a year of neglect of the problem and of not really pursuing it properly, to turn tail on the very advice that we had been given. In other words, it began to say: "Yes, perhaps we can, after all, legislate for Anguilla even though our lawyers told you to tell them that you cannot do that sort of thing, once Britain has given independence."

This is a pretty sorry story, in the end, because it means that in many ways the Foreign Office—I say this openly now—is to blame for the way the situation has finally developed in that area. It was a very hard cross for Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Southwell—two of the distinguished leaders of St. Kitts—to bear, because they were not to blame in this whole matter. They had been given a country—one could call it a state, anyway—which, in that sense, was not really unified and the British Government did not build hard to keep it unified after our interim settlement.

In these circumstances, I do not oppose this Bill. All that is now water under the bridge. But at least we ought now to recognise the dangers that we are in in this part of the world, as a result of that history. First, there might now be further fragmentation, or demands for fragmentation, as a result of giving way finally to Anguilla in this Bill. We have no alternative, I agree, but I want to point out that danger.

Secondly, I do not think we should be talking too loudly about further independence. I want to ask the noble Lord to reply to this question. Have we made absolutely clear to the people of Nevis—another part of the state which has been agitating for secession from St. Kitts—that this cannot be a precedent, and that they must not now start asking for independence from St. Kitts? This would be a ridiculous thing, anyway, because the two islands are almost joined. There is a very short patch of sea between them—

Lord Pitt of Hampstead

They are asking.

Lord Northfield

I agree, my Lords. They are asking. I want to come to that. I am glad that my noble friend Lord Pitt, who knows this area better than I do, has intervened at this point. They are asking, but not under the present Government of the state. The present Government is a coalition of politicians elected from Nevis together with the previous Opposition in the main island of St. Kitts. But what happens—and this is the danger—if, as is now on the cards according to the news coming from St. Kitts, it is not long before the Labour Party is again returned to power in St. Kitts? Will the people of Nevis then again start agitating for independence, and will Her Majesty's Government stand firm and say that there is no chance of Anguilla being a precedent?

The third danger is this. With Sir Nigel Fisher, who accompanied me on that mission all those years ago, I was very concerned, and am still concerned, that an independent mini-state of this character can be penetrated by very undesirable forces. There were, at that time, dangers of international gambling syndicates moving in, and all kinds of things which we had to try to head off and to warn the people of Anguilla about. That could occur with a very small island, not knowing its way in the world and being very short of money. Apart from living on remittances, Anguilla lived for a long time by selling postage stamps and false dollars. An island as short of money as that may turn to undesirable kinds of people, who promise big investments for their undesirable activities. Very often, people of that kind bring in not only undesirable commerce, or whatever you like to call it, but arms and guns as well, and it becomes an unruly situation which can be fraught with danger for that whole area of the Caribbean.

So after that history, and after the years that have passed, of a gradual drift towards final secession, very unhappily, and as a result of a lack of real strength of action in the Foreign Office, I cannot oppose this Bill; but, at least, I can say that those dangers still face us. They may well lead to calls for further fragmentation. We may well be faced with trouble from Nevis, if there is a change of Government in St. Kitts, and I hope that they are going to resist it. If we talk about complete independence, we may well be on the way to letting in these undesirable elements which can cause a great deal of trouble and unrest in that part of the Caribbean. So I hope we realise what we are doing in giving this Bill a Second Reading, and that we shall beware, as the years go by, of neglecting this problem and of letting the troubles mount.

3.28 p.m.

Lord Lee of Newton

My Lords, in the days which we have been discussing, I happened to be chairman of the conference which negotiated associated status for most of the Caribbean, including St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla. There had been a great deal of discussion by officials at the Colonial Office, long before the conference took place, and, to the best of my recollection, there was never one word of dissent from the representative of Anguilla to going into the three nation set-up. We were utterly amazed when Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Southwell came back afterwards and said that trouble had begun in Anguilla. There was no suggestion of it. Indeed, if I recollect correctly, the only thing that they were asking for at the time was an airstrip, in order to facilitate more tourism and so on. Therefore, I think it necessary to point out that it was no fault whatever of the Government, or of the departments in Britain, that this affair arose.

Indeed, looking back on the whole of the period when we were granting associated status throughout the Caribbean, this was the only occasion when it went wrong. We did the same thing with the whole of the Windwards, and apart from the fact that for a few months there was some silly stuff in St. Vincent there was never any problem in going ahead to associated status. My recollection is that in the legislation itself we tried to do what we could to ensure that the road was well open to independence. That was what we were trying to achieve.

I agree very much with what my noble friend Lord Northfield has just said of the dangers of more splintering. The Caribbean is difficult in that respect. We were hoping—and I am sure that my noble friend Lord Pitt would agree with me—that federation itself, when it first began, would be the answer to all these problems, and it was an immense disappointment that federation did not succeed. I still hope that one fine day it will come again, but along with my noble friend Lord Northfield I hope that we shall make it quite clear that any further splintering of this type is unthinkable.

As I see it, there is no reference in the Bill to the economics of all this. We all know that very many of the smaller ex-colonies—I am thinking of some in the Pacific as well—can never be economically independent. A while ago we had arguments about the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and Ocean Island. What we are undertaking is that in large measure we shall still be economically responsible for the future of a number of these islands.

I do not know what our position will be financially in respect of Anguilla in the days to come, but I hope we shall not assume that because of the fait accompli with which we are faced here we should want to be faced with any more of this kind of thing. My noble friend said what he thought was the cause of it. I think the personality of Mr. Bradshaw had quite a lot to do with it. I discussed it with him and with Paul Southwell and I know that there was a feeling that Mr. Bradshaw was being a little too dictatorial. I think he was turning up in uniform and wearing a sword, and I believe that was partly responsible for what happened.

3.33 p.m.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I am grateful for the support which has come from noble Lords, even if it was to some extent qualified by one or two of your Lordships. Although the purpose of the Bill is formally to recognise a situation which has existed for many years, its progress through Parliament will have real significance for the Anguillan people. The enactment of this Bill will remove a nagging and long-standing feeling of discontent among the islanders about their unsatisfactory status and will open the way for a new chapter in UK-Anguillan relations. We hope that it will continue to be a fruitful partnership in the development of the island.

What the future holds for Anguilla's constitutional development remains to be seen, but I emphasise that this Bill is a step forward. How Anguilla goes forward from here is a matter which has to be determined largely by the people themselves. I have emphasised the co-operation of the St. Kitts Government in the action we are taking. Nothing in the Bill detracts from the continuing constitutional development of St. Kitts-Nevis or from the right of the inhabitants of that state to determine their own future.

I will now turn to one or two of the points that have been raised. For example, the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, asked me what constitutional changes might be necessary before independence and which are made possible under this Bill. It will be necessary to make some minor changes to the present constitution order—the Anguillan (Constitution) Order 1976—as a consequence of separation; for example, to remove the reference to "associated state"; to provide for a governor instead of a commissioner, and so on. It is also intended to discuss with Anguillan Ministers some further changes, the purpose of which would be to devolve a greater measure of control of local affairs on the elected Government. It would not of course be in line with the policy of successive British Governments to grant full internal self-government save in the context of an agreed timetable for independence.

Several noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, and indeed the noble Lord, Lord Lee, asked me about the level of support which we shall be giving to Anguilla in forthcoming years. In the coming financial year it is expected that Anguilla will receive some £200,000 in budgetary aid, £601,000 in capital aid and £222,000 in technical co-operation assistance. This is a generous allocation per capita of about £154, so that the need for budgetary aid may well fall away in the next year or two when the tourist trade develops. It is hoped that it will be possible to continue capital aid and technical assistance at or about the present level while the need for it exists.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but perhaps he could enlighten us as to what is the total population of Anguilla. The amount of aid that is about to be contributed adds up to about a million pounds. I am not against that but I am wondering whether the capital aid projects were related to British products and British production or unrelated to the source of supply.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I think the population of Anguilla is in the region of 6,500. As to the question of whether or not our aid is tied, I can tell the noble Lord that almost every allocation of aid that we make these days is indeed tied to British purchases.

The noble Lord, Lord Lee, and I think one other noble Lord also referred to the possibility of a future association in that part of the world now that this particular association of the associated states is to be broken. Initially, of course, this would be a matter for consideration by the Government and people of Anguilla themselves. If they considered that their future lay in this direction, that would be welcomed by Her Majesty's Government. It should also be noted that on separation Anguilla will become eligible for membership of a number of regional organisations, for example the Caribbean Development Bank, the Eastern Caribbean Currency Authority, and so on.

I think the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, also referred to the question of St. Kitts-Nevis now that the associated state is to be altered in this way. As my honourable friend the Minister of State announced in another place on 24th April, and indeed as I have mentioned in this debate, the new Government which took office after the general election in St. Kitts-Nevis last February are not able at this time to facilitate Anguillan separation in the state's legislature as had been agreed in talks in London last December. At those talks a timetable for independence for St. Kitts-Nevis this year was also worked out. The present St. Kitts Government are concentrating their efforts on economic development and other matters and have not yet indicated what priority they attach to the attainment of independence.

In bringing this Bill before your Lordships I also wish to advise you that our commitment to Anguillan Ministers implies that the Bill is needed for Royal Assent very quickly; that is to say, by the time Parliament rises for the Christmas Recess. I hope therefore that your Lordships will agree to conduct the Committee stage and the remaining stages with all possible despatch, and anticipating the co-operation of your Lordships in this matter, I shall be putting a Motion on the Order Paper today relating to the remaining stages of this Bill which are, I understand, to be taken—if your Lordships agree—on Monday, 8th December.

Lord Northfield

My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord because he has not dealt with the most important point which my noble friend Lord Lee and I raised; and to some extent it was raised also by my noble friend Lord Pitt in his interjection, namely, whether it has been made absolutely clear that the precedent of the independence for Anguilla will not be allowed to influence the position with respect to Nevis, where there has been—and still is—a continuous pressure to separate itself from St. Kitts. I hope very much that the noble Lord will, as I believe the previous Government did, make it absolutely clear to the people of Nevis that this would be an absolute nonsense, that they cannot count on our support for it, and that they must not use the Anguillan example as a precedent.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I think the word "precedent" is the wrong word in this context. The fact is that each and every situation such as the one we are facing today is different and we would want to consider each case on its merits. This is, above all, a matter for the people of these islands themselves, and that is why this Bill is before your Lordships' House.

Lord Pitt of Hampstead

My Lords, will the noble Lord confirm or deny that when the conference between the Government of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla and the British Government was held there was an agreement that after independence, in fact three months after independence, there should be a referendum in Nevis as to whether they should have separation from St. Kitts?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I am afraid I have no information about the referendum to which the noble Lord refers. If the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, and the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, will allow me, I will ascertain what assurances were given at the time of that conference and write to the noble Lords with the information. As I have said, our aid and other support will continue to be available to the associated state of St. Kitts-Nevis as it will be for the dependency of Anguilla. I hope your Lordships will therefore join me in wishing the Government and the people of Anguilla well for the future.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.