Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Seventh Report


Population: 4,785

GDP: $36.8 million, GDP per head: $ 7,696

Key industries: Reliant on UK budgetary aid, tourism

Full member of CARICOM and OECS


501.  Montserrat is one of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, lying 27 miles southwest of Antigua and 40 miles northwest of Guadeloupe. The island is eleven miles long and seven miles wide, entirely volcanic and very mountainous. Volcanic activity has destroyed nearly two thirds of the island's cultivable space as well as its capital.


502.  Named after a monastery in Spain by Christopher Columbus during his second great voyage in 1493, the island became a British Colony in 1632 although the first settlers were largely Irish. Montserrat was captured by the French twice for short periods but was finally restored to Britain in 1783.

Constitutional status

503.  Montserrat's constitution, consolidated into one document in 1990, provides for the execution of government through a Governor appointed by the Crown, an Executive Council (ExCo) which has the general control and direction of government, and a Legislative Council (LegCo). The Governor retains responsibility for internal security (including police), external affairs, defence, and the public service (of which she is the head). As in Anguilla, the Governor of Montserrat also has responsibility for offshore finance in the territory.

504.  A general election took place in Montserrat on 31 May 2006. The government is a coalition between the Montserrat Democratic Party (MDP), the New People's Liberation Movement (NPLM) and an independent. The next election is due in 2011.

Evidence received

505.  The Committee received five written submissions from Montserrat.

506.  The Committee heard oral evidence from the Chief Minister of Montserrat in December 2007.

Key recommendations

  • We are concerned by the National Audit Office's finding that the FCO has been complacent in managing the risk of money laundering in Anguilla, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands, particularly since these Territories are those for which the UK is directly responsible for regulation and therefore most exposed to financial liabilities. We agree with the Public Accounts Committee's recent recommendation that Governors of these Territories should use their reserve powers to bring in more external investigators or prosecutors to strengthen investigative capacity. (para 312)
  • We recommend that the Government should focus funding on infrastructure in Montserrat on those areas that are most likely to assist the development of tourism on the Island. (para 348)

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