South Atlantic Council
Promoting communication and understanding
Documents on the Politics of the Falkland Islands
The Constitutions of the Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands Constitution Order 1985
United Kingdon Statutory Instrument 1985 No. 444, approved by the Privy Council on 20 March 1985, came into operation 3 October 1985.
This replaced the colonial constitution that had been in force since 1948. It began with a new chapter asserting the human rights of Falkland Islanders, including their right to self-determination. The most important political change was in the composition of the Executive Council, which had previously consisted solely of colonial officials and individuals appointed by the Governor. While some officials appointed by the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office are still ex-officio members, since 1985 the eight elected members of the Legislative Council/Assembly have chosen three members of the Executive Council.
The Falkland Islands Constitution (Amendment) Order 1997
United Kingdon Statutory Instrument 1997 No. 864, approved by the Privy Council on 19 March 1997, came into operation 1 September 1997.
This changed the definition of which British citizens and Commonwealth citizens were eligible to gain Falkland Islands Status. It also made a series of other changes, mainly concerning the Legislative Council. Two politically important steps were taken to transfer authority from the colonial administration to local elected politicians. Firstly, provision was made for the election of a Speaker, to act as the presiding officer of the Legislative Council, instead of the Governor. However, the first Speaker did not take office until 2002. Secondly, the role of the Governor as the leader of government business was reduced, by establishing a system for individual members of the Legislative Council to take responsibility for the handling specific topics in the Council. In addition, in response to the decline in the Camp population, the number of elected members of the Council was changed from four each for the Camp and the Stanley constituencies, to three for Camp and five for Stanley.
The Falkland Islands Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 1997
United Kingdon Statutory Instrument 1997 No. 2974, approved by the Privy Council on 17 December 1997, came into operation 1 February 1998.
This made a simple change, so that somebody standing for election as a member of the Legislative Council did not have to be registered as a voter in the constituency, but could live in either Stanley or Camp.
Falkland Islands Constitution, 1985 and 1997
The Falkland Islands Constitution 1985 originally came into effect on 18 April 1985. This version is consolidated with the two 1997 amendments.
Record of the Meeting of the Legislative Council held in Stanley on Friday 12 September 2008
The debate on a motion to approve the new draft constitution. Most attention was given to Article 22(5), covering who had the right to Falkland Islands Status. Falklands politicians objected to individuals who immediately before the commencement of this Constitution had FI Status continuing to do so permanently, but the UK FCO insisted on maintaining this provision. It was agreed to restrict the right to apply for FI Status in several ways, notably by changing the citizenship requirement from all Commonwealth citizens to British citizens.
The Adoption of the 2009 Constitution
An account from the Falkland Island Government of the adoption of the new constitution and the changes made.
Falkland Islands Constitution 2009
The Falkland Islands Constitution Order 2008, Statutory Instrument 2008 No. 2846, approved by the United Kingdom Privy Council, on 5 November 2008, providing for the replacement of the 1985 constitution. This constitution entered into force on 1 January 2009 and remains unamended as the current constitution.
The status of the old Legislative Council is upgraded by renaming it the Legislative Assembly and some new powers are given to the Assembly. The changes are described by Mike Summers MLA as creating a new post-colonial constitution, (see the next item, below). It is true that the impact of the changes is to complete the change in the political role of the Governor from acting as the leader of government business to being more like a constitutional monarch. In particular, the Governor's speeches in the Legislative Assembly have changed to reporting current political, economic and social change in a neutral manner. However, the legal role did not change to the same extent and many provisions of the new constititution still give the Governor the right to act against the wishes of the elected Falklands politicians. In addition, any future changes to the constitution must still be approved by the UK Privy Council. It remains a colonial constitution, but the Falkland Islands have moved further down the road towards self-government.
Councillor Mike Summers Assesses the New Constitution
Falkland Islands Government Press Release, 1 January 2009, Article on the New Falkland Islands Constitution, by Councillor Mike Summers OBE.
Debate in 2013 on the Roles and Remuneration of Legislative Assembly Members
Report on Roles and Remuneration of Legislative Assembly Members, 6 June 2013
Report of a panel consisting of Richard Cockwell, Lewis Clifton and Justin McPhee. The main focus was to respond to the increasing demands upon the Members of the Legislative Assembly. It was recommended they should change from part-timers, who were paid expenses when they took time off from their normal employment, to full-time professional legislators. The recommendations have been implemented and MLAs have been awarded a salary of £40,000 per year.
Papers from the Executive Council
The Executive Council is the nearest equivalent that the Falkland Islands Government has to a cabinet. It consists of three of the elected members of the Legislative Assembly and two ex-officio members, the Chief Executive and the Director of Finance. The ex-officio members do not have the right to vote on Executive Council decisions. The Commander British Forces and the Attorney General also have the right to attend all meetings. The Governor or a nominée of the Governor presides over the meetings.
Executive Council Paper 145/13, 26 June 2013, Report of the Attorney General on Members' Remuneration, containing, in an annex, the draft Members' Remuneration (Amendment) Bill. PDF download
Executive Council Paper 175/13, 24 July 2013, Report of the Chief Executive on Members Remuneration (Organisational Issues) PDF download
Executive Council Paper 142/13, 24 July 2013, Report of the Attorney General on the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2013 Proposals to amend the electoral law, taking into account new practices adopted for the referendum on the political status of the Falkland Islands held in March 2013 and recommendations made after the referendum by the international observer mission. PDF download
Participation by Falkland Islanders at the UN Decolonisation Committee
Falkland Islands Government Publications
Our Islands Our Home
Published in March 2012 Source: www.falklands.gov.fk/our-islands-our-home PDF download
Our Islands Our History
Published in December 2012 Source: www.falklands.gov.fk/our-islands-our-history PDF download
The FIG Website
There is an extensive website, containing a wide range of current news, reports and records of government business. The home page is at www.falklands.gov.fk. Materials covering the Legislative Assembly are at www.falklands.gov.fk/self-governance/legislative and the Executive Council at www.falklands.gov.fk/self-governance/legislative/public-papers/public-executive-council-papers.
Copyright: South Atlantic Council, 2013.
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Page and the links published on 28 November 2013.