A Brief Overview of the Legislature in Montserrat from 1951 to Present
Universal Adult Suffrage in Montserrat was introduced in 1951, by means of letters patent. This led to the introduction of the Legislative Council where for the first time the majority comprised elected members. This made way for W H Bramble and his group of non-plantocracy members to be elected into the Legislative Council in 1952. Further amendments to the Letters Patent in 1959 allowed for a Ministerial system of government, which gave a greater level of local self-government. W H Bramble then emerged as the first Chief Minister.
In 1989 the letters patent were withdrawn and replaced with our first written Montserrat Constitution Order. The Honourable John Osborne was the first Chief Minister to operate under that first Constitution Order. That Constitution was replaced with the Montserrat Constitution Order 2010, which introduced the following changes: The Legislative Council was renamed the Legislative Assembly, the Chief Minister was renamed Premier, a Deputy Premier was introduced, along with a provision for two Parliamentary Secretaries.
The Legislative Assembly in Montserrat is made up of nine elected members and two ex-officio members i.e. the Attorney General and the Financial Secretary. The ruling party must have a majority of five elected members and the individual, who successfully commands the support of the five elected members, forms the government.
Currently Montserrat does not have a Parliament Building, though Legislative Assembly Meetings are conducted in a rented space. In this regard, it is worthwhile noting that in 1995 the Soufriere Hills volcano began to erupt and in 1997 a massive volcanic eruption destroyed the capital of Plymouth, the airport and the port, rendering the southern side of the island uninhabitable. The newly constructed Parliament Building was destroyed along with the other buildings in Plymouth. Since that unfortunate incident Montserrat has not had a Parliament Building. However, with the rebuilding in the North of the Island well underway, it is hoped that a new Parliament Building will be realised sooner, rather than later.
The Legislature Department exists to provide effective administrative, advisory and clerical support to the Legislation Assembly, faciltate public access to the legistlative process, and promote sound parliamentary practices.