published bg g uthoritg .
VoL. 98.] SAINT VINCENT, WEDNESDAY, 31 MARCH, 1965. [No. 20.
EASTERN CARIBBEAN FEDERATION.
The following despatch from the Secretary of State on the subject of a
Federation of the Territories of the Eastern Caribbean is published hereunder
for general information.
THE CHURCH HOUSE,
LONDON, S.W. 1.
22nd March, 1965.
I have the honour to address you on the subject of a federation of the
territories of the Eastern Caribbean.
2. On the 10th February, 1965 the Governments of the Eastern Caribbean
published their own proposals for such a federation in the form of a draft
Federal Scheme, together with the reservations which some of the Governments
had about certain aspects of these proposals. At the same time exchanges of
correspondence on this question between my predecessor and the Governments
concerned were also published. During my recent visit I undertook to let your
Government have my views on the draft Federal Scheme as soon as possible.
3. Her Majesty's Government shares the view of its predecessors that
federation, if it can be brought about on satisfactory terms, offers the best
prospect for,a solution to the .constitutional :problems of this area and can
make a substantial contribution to their economic well-being. At the same time,
however, before I should be prepared to sponsor the legislation necessary to
80 SAINT VINCENT, WEDNESDAY, 31 MARCH, 1965.-(No. 20.)
implement any particular scheme of federation, I should require to be satisfied
that it was suited to the needs of the area and likely to endure. The break-up
of the Federation of The West Indies in 1962 was a serious blow to outside
confidence in the area and it was impressed upon me on many occasions during
my recent visit that any new federation that may be devised must be built to
4. In my view, the first requirement if the federation is to endure is that
the Federal Government should have the power to deal with all matters of
major concern to the region as a whole. This is particularly important in rela-
tion to matters concerning the economic development of the region. The
Eastern Caribbean will remain dependent for some years to come on external
aid for its economic development; and the Federal Government must be strong
enough not only to ensure that this aid is used to the best advantage but also
to inspire the donors of such aid, and private investors, with confidence in its
capacity to ensure political stability and promote the welfare and development
of the region.
5. At the same time I recognize that the system of government we are
considering is a federal system and that under such a system the Unit Govern-
ments must be left clearly responsible for the matters which are of purely Unit
concern. I also recognize that in many areas of government it is not possible
in the constitution to draw a sharp distinction between matters of Unit concern
and matters which affect the region as a whole. The exact division of powers
between the Federal and the Unit Governments is still open for negotiation;
but I am satisfied that the division of powers proposed in the Exclusive and
Concurrent Legislative Lists attached to the present draft Federal Scheme
affords a basis for negotiation on which agreement of all the parties concerned
can be reached. It would, however, in my view be essential to provide that
in general the executive authority of the Federation should extend to those
matters with which the Federal Legislature has for the time being power to
make laws. I should find it very difficult to agree to the Federal Government's
executive powers being limited in the way which appears to be envisaged by
paragraph 17 of the present draft Federal Scheme and by the reservations
made by the Government of Antigua in paragraph (v) of Appendix II to that
6. I turn next to the question of Federal finances. The exact method
by which public revenue is divided between the Federal and Unit Governments
is one which always gives rise to difficulty in any Federal Constitution. It
is clearly a matter to which all the Governments concerned in the present
negotiations have already given a great deal of thought, and it is also one on
which, as is shown by the reservations set out in Appendix II to the draft
Federal Scheme, the Governments concerned are still not entirely agreed among
themselves. It would be essential in my view that the Federal Government
should have its own sources of finance and that these should be adequate to
permit it, when it so decides, to carry out all the functions which under the
constitution it is empowered to undertake. The exact way in which this is to
be achieved will be for further negotiation; but I should like some further
consideration to be given to the possibility that from the outset the Federal
Government might derive some of its revenue from income tax.
7. A further matter to which I attach importance concerns the powers of
the Federation in relation to any matter tending to undermine financial
stability or good government in any part of the Federation. Paragraph 19
of the draft Federal Scheme proposes that control over external borrowing
should be on the Exclusive List and that the Federal Government would be
empowered to raise loans on the joint security of the revenues of the Federal
and Unit Governments. Under these circumstances, it seems to me that serious
misgovernment or financial maladministration in one part of the Federation
could damage the credit-worthiness of the whole. Paragraph 20 of the draft
Federal Scheme gives the Federal Government the power to set up Commissions
of Enquiry in such circumstances but does not provide the Federal Government
with any powers to deal with the situation after the Commission of Enquiry
has reported. This in my view is a serious defect in the proposals, and I should
wish to consider with you in any further negotiations how this might be
SAINT VINCENT, WEDNESDAY, 31 MARCH, 1965.-(No. 20.) 81
8. The above represents my main general conclusions on the draft Federal
Scheme as published by the Regional Council of Ministers on 10th February,
though I may have other points of lesser importance to raise at a later stage in
the negotiations. I understand that it is the intention of the Council to consider
the matter further in the light of this despatch at a meeting in April. I hope
that it will be agreeable to you that after this meeting, a conference should be
held in London and I would propose 1st July as its starting date.
9. The main purpose of the conference would be to agree on the instruc-
tions for the preparation of the Federal Constitution. In accordance with
what I understand to be the wishes of most of the Governments concerned, it
would substantially be the constitution under which the Federation would
become independent. The exact stages, however, by which the constitution
would be brought fully into force and the Federation would become indepen-
dent, as well as the stages by which the Units would obtain internal self-govern-
ment within the federal framework, would be for negotiation at the conference.
I have noted what is said in paragraph 24 of the draft Federal Scheme about
aid and I should be prepared to discuss at the conference the question of
financial assistance by the British Government to the Federation if it were set up.
10. It is my intention to publish this despatch, together with the already
published draft Federal Scheme and the documents released with it. I shall
notify you in due course of the date of publication. Following publication, if
the decisions of the next meeting of the Regional Council of Ministers are such
as to enable me to proceed with arrangements for a conference, then your Gov-
ernment may wish to arrange that the proposals in the draft Federal Scheme
should be debated in your legislature before the conference takes place. In
any case the legislature should (as proposed in paragraph 5 of my predecessor's
despatch No. 405 of 9th August, 1963) be specifically invited to approve, if they
have not done so already, the proposal that the conference should discuss a
constitution for an independent Federation.
11. In view of the nature of the proposed conference, it is my intention
that, in accordance with normal practice on these occasions, the principal
opposition parties with seats in each legislature should be invited to attend as
well as Government representatives.
12. This despatch is being addressed to the Governor of Barbados and
the Administrators of Antigua, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, Montserrat, Dominica,
St. Lucia and St. Vincent and copied to the Chairman of the Regional Council
I have the honour to be,
Your most obedient, humble servant,
H. II. WILLIAMS,
31st March, 1965.
(C. 959 III.)
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