Thursday, 17 February 2011

Should the Government Rule without Parliamentary Authority?

The system of government that has been bestowed on Gibraltar is a UK parliamentary system in which the principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty is embedded, save that our Parliament does not have the supreme sovereignty such as empowers it to change the 2006 Constitution.  In this piece I will explore briefly what this principle encompasses.  I question whether it is actually followed and adhered to in Gibraltar.  I suggest that its breach proves the case for the need of electoral and parliamentary reform.

The importance of this principle is that Parliamentary Sovereignty is a core and fundamental foundation of a parliamentary system of government.  It is an important basis of democracy; without Parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law democratic accountability and transparency is seriously damaged. The sovereignty of Parliament is paramount.  Parliament legislates.    The legislature is Her Majesty and the Gibraltar Parliament (section 24, 2006 Constitution).

The executive arm of government in Gibraltar is Her Majesty but is " ... exercised by the Government of Gibraltar, either directly or through public officers as prescribed by this Constitution or by any other law" (section 44, 2006 Constitution).  The Government of Gibraltar is constituted by Her Majesty, as represented by the Governor, and the Chief Minister acting within the Council of Minister (section 44, 2006 Constitution).

Legislation is what authorises the doing of acts by the executive arm of government.  This is part of what is encompassed by the phrase the rule of law, a second fundamental principle that comes with the parliamentary system .  The rule of law includes many principles.  One is that everyone is equal before the law and, importantly, no one is above the law, which includes the principle that even the executive arm of government is not above the law.

The importance of the rule of law is that it is Parliament that authorises, oversees and supervises the acts of the executive.  The executive and public officers should not act without the authority of an Act of Parliament, especially as Gibraltar is a subsidiary government with no prerogative powers.  In this way the Opposition (in the absence of any back bench Members of Parliament) can hold the Government of Gibraltar to account.  This is a crucial ingredient of open, transparent and accountable government.

Does this happen in practice?  I would question that there is a rigid adherence to the principle of the rule of law by successive Governments of Gibraltar.  There are examples through the years that this has not been the case.  To pick an example that transcends all governments, present and past, where is the Act of Parliament that authorises the Government of Gibraltar to construct government housing?

When I have asked this question of past and present parliamentarians, they point me to the successive Appropriation Acts.  These, however, authorise the expenditure not the substantive acts.  I would question the application of those moneys on expenditure that is not authorised by substantive legislation.  This in turn raises the question of whether those who do apply these monies cannot be surcharged under the Public Finance (Control and Audit) Act.  Surcharging means making them personally liable for the payments made.  The rule of law and surcharging are an important control on the Government and public officers and safeguards against anti-democratic and arbitrary action by any Government of Gibraltar or public officers.

The culmination of the argument that I have had with past and present parliamentarians is that in practice what I am highlighting is a theoretical and academic issue.  The reason they give is that, even were I to be right, the problem can be resolved by any incumbent Government of Gibraltar by it passing retrospective legislation, after all governments have an inbuilt majority in Parliament, made up of exactly all the persons who are Ministers and so are the executive.

That there is a systemic capacity in Gibraltar that permits the unchallengeable use by the executive of the legislative process to pass retrospective legislation is precisely one of the most significant abuses of the Parliamentary system and of Parliamentary Sovereignty.  It is a practice that is widely frowned upon in other parliamentary democracies.  It is anti-democratic.  It is exactly this abusive ability that makes the case for the need of checks and balances, starting with ensuring that there are backbenchers in Parliament.  This will only happen with electoral and parliamentary reforms.


  1. Robert, another Great piece.

    For me, Very informative, I'm a little less ignorant.

    Thank you!
    Ps. I think I'll read it again. :)

  2. Robert very interesting indeed. Irrespective of the way in which our elected governments have acted it can only be good for our democratic process to have more check and balances, apart from having backbenchers. I for one would enjoy lively debates in the house. Furthermore I would like to see all meeting of the house televised, that would be a positive step to involve gente de a pie in our future. GBC should start doing this asap. The more accessible our parliament is and the more debate (backbenchers) the better for all of us. All parties should only but support this initiative, failing to to so would imply
    the contrary.

  3. L.E.F.

    Rule of law. I wish.

    Here in Gibraltar it is Rule by law .

    Once elected into Government , successive Governments have abused their power without any regard for the electorate.

    There is a flaw in our system which we have to correct and soon .

    We are all Gibraltarians regardless of our party colours and our Government represents all of us. Yes they represent all of us including those of us Gibraltarians who are caught between a rock and a hard place because of our political system.

    Those of us who are crying out for the change that our Parliament could already have without any need for reforms.

    Unfortunately we have been proven time and again that it is too late for GDS or GSLP to mend or correct their ways.

    All that is needed is just a willingness to be accountable, a willingness to dialogue and cooperation . An eagerness to convince by argument and merit . A commitment in ones actions of the rule of law .

    That means that Government must be ultra transparent in everything. It must be accountable to the last penny . Above all it should lead by example when it comes to human respect.

    It is our right to demand better from our Parliament . We demand from our Parliament what is expected of any democratic government.

    We are entitled to have a Parliament that sits frequently to discuss current affairs

    We are entitled to have our questions in Parliament answered , without resorting to insults and accusations.

    If we cannot even have civilized discussions amongst our leaders what do we have ?

    Rule of law is a myth in Gibraltar.

    We are not all equal before the law .

    2 examples to ponder and compare are treatment of Joanna Hernandez and treatment of Guardia Civil.

    I still have to be convinced of what is the best way to reform our Parliament .Not sure what more backbenchers would achieve ?

    What is clear in my mind is that reform is needed and soon , because we deserve much more from our political and government institutions
    than what we are actually receiving.

    We are being shortchanged in democracy.

  4. The GSD spokesman, Mr montegriffo said 'we can't have a system... that gives so many checks and many freedoms within society, that doesn't allow the government to make decisions because your are effectively giving too much power to the people'
    Is this what the GSD really want? I find this appalling, are were slowly moving towards a dictatorship? Or are we already there in all but name?

  5. Source: viewpoint 3/2/11 about 8 mins into show.

  6. 18 FEBRUARY 2011 03:01
    18 FEBRUARY 2011 16.20
    Both the above Have summed up our democratic system quite clearly and look forward to others to add to their views, I personally believe we live in an anti democratic society more like a dictatorial regime more than anything else.

    The GSD government who criticized so much the previous Government have not only failed to deliver their manifesto and promises but have more than doubled if not more every accusation they made against GSLP.

    Their luck of respect for the electorate and their willingness’ to eventually sacrifice the majority of us in favour of their friends, family connections with their private schemes is beyond comprehension.

    we have become a zombie society mainly due to fear of the dictatorial regime.

    Robert Vasquez and other prospective dependant individuals must remember that the majority of the electorate are the young with and without academics degrees and young with or without a trade or skills with no future. The elderly have been deceived for many years and will be unable to digest what’s really happening; many do not have a true command of the English language and must be addressed in Spanish or better still the llanito’s way.

    Hope they day will come when people in Gibraltar can express the views with fear from their elected government.


  7. You are an encouragement to our Gibraltar; we legitimately hope your informative democratic blog will encourage many of our talented intellectual Gibraltarians to come forward and support you declaring and interest to stand up as a group or independent candidate in our nest election. You are giving A LECTURE TO ALL POLITICIANS as to what our constitution and democracy should be and voters must realise that over the last year you’ve managed to explain many important issues that effects Gibraltar as a whole of which the majority of Gibraltarians were not aware off, many of the points raised and replies were more technical and legal consequently many people could not really digest them 100%. Gibraltar wholeheartedly thanks you and our derailed, dislocated, Government for forcing you to take this democratic and fundamental action on our behalf. Gibraltarians are very aware and grateful to you Robert and others who have contributed to your BLOG. We believe and are certain that you would not risk your profession, family, or business criticising the GSD many incorrect things done or not done under the 2006 constitution unless you meant to implement same if elected. We know for the first time that someone like you is willing to stand up and try to introduce the Law as it’s meant to be and offer Gibraltarians our true democratic rights we all deserve as British subjects. Hope Wednesday the 23rd is a triumph to all 1704

  8. ruling without authority and ruling with absolute authority are the same thing - there is no democratic mandate justifying either evil.

  9. the Parliament Act and "the franchise"?

    £100 fine for voting in a general election when not entitled - what kinda rubbish is this?

    3. (1) The persons entitled to vote as electors at elections of members of the Parliament (in this Act referred to as ‘the Parliament’) under the Gibraltar Constitution Order 2006 shall be those persons who–
    (i) HAVE LIVED lived in Gibraltar during the whole of the qualifying period; and
    (ii) INTEND TO LIVE in Gibraltar either permanently or indefinitely;
    (iii) ARE, on the qualifying date and on the date of the poll, British citizens, British Overseas Territories citizens, British Overseas
    citizens, British Nationals (Overseas),British protected persons or British subjects under the British Nationality Act 1981, and are 18 years of age or over and are not subject to
    any legal incapacity to vote;

    (1A) In determining questions arising under subsection (1)(i) as to whether a person has lived in Gibraltar during the whole of the qualifying period, regard shall be had to the purpose and other circumstances, as well
    as to the fact, of his presence in or absence from Gibraltar.

    (1B) For the purposes of subsection (1)(ii) the following presumptions shall apply:

    (a) where a person has his home in Gibraltar, he shall be presumed to intend to live in Gibraltar permanently or indefinitely;

    (b) where a person has more than one home, he shall be presumed to live permanently or indefinitely in that place in which he
    has his principal home;

    (c) where a person is stationed in Gibraltar for the principal purpose of carrying on a business, profession or occupation, and his spouse and children, if any, have their home outside Gibraltar, he shall be presumed to intend to live permanently or indefinitely in the latter place.

    (2) The qualifying period shall be a continuous period of six months ending on and including the qualifying date.

    (3) The Minister may from time to time by order published in the Gazette appoint a date to be the qualifying date for the purposes of this section.

    (4) The expression “qualifying date” means such date in relation to a register or supplement as the Minister may, by order published in the Gazette, provide.

  10. Today's Chronic carries an article showing the indifference shown by the GSD and GSLP to electoral and Parliamentary reform. The GSD say there is a crying need fro reform so they set up a committee that never meets. A classic way of pretending something is to be done but actually there is no intent to do it. The GSLP do not think there is any need for reform!

    Time to break the block vote! Vote for people who will make a real difference, remember:

    BLOCK VOTES MEANS BLOCKED MINDS ... vote for individuals who will make a difference.


    Those that have lived in Gibraltar for 6 months only or those that profess to do have done so, should not be permitted to vote in Gibraltar!

    What's their legitimate interest and why does our Parliament give them such a right?

    A right to vote and a right to potentially determine the outcome of an election over the heads and will of a majority of Gibraltarians, long-standing residents and members of this community?

    What kinda self-determination and democratic voting franchise is this?


    Political debates between politicians ARE for the House of Parliament and NOT just for press statements, opinions, interviews and letters to the Chronic by political activists which is the 'normal' thing since 1996

    Independent political reporting and commentary and public commentary has been mixed up, blurred and almost shut out by political propaganda and party politics in this uneasy and unhealthy environment

    LLanito World is the first 'democratic plumber' of Gibraltar's truly blocked electoral parliamentary and democratic systems

  13. Anon 11:57

    Good points!

    By doing so the GSD Government ensures expat's and other non locals who have recently migrated to Gibraltar can vote. The GSD Government KNOWS that they have their vote, as it has shown EXTREME leniency towards them.

    Showing preferential treatment to oversees workers offering them free accommodation, tax reimbursing schemes amongst other perks.

    The time for half measures and talk is over.

    Let us stand together for the good of OUR community and say NO MORE! This is OUR Gibraltar.


  14. where's Kaelan Joyce these days?

  15. Anon @ 12.20 - have you read the article in qestion? It says "The Progressive Democratic Party has long championed such changes." Another voice now clamouring for change is lawyer and political blogger Robert Vasquez, who has strongly hinted that he will stand for election as an independent." Seems to me that the unblocking has been attempted since the last elections. There are none as blind as those who will not see.

  16. Kealan,

    I couldn't agree more with your last comment!!!

    Charity starts at home!!!



  17. Hola Robert, in the subject of "how is Gibraltar exposed to economics pressures" I ended up quite concerned in our future ability to :

    1. Repay our debt
    2. Sustain our pensions and civil service costs

    If we depended so much on import duty of tabacco, to the tune of 100 million per anum. Due to my concerns I went through the trouble of finding out how much is our approximate income of import duty, although a large sum, (45 million) it is no where near the 100m claimed by many bloggers. Furthermore, import duty on tabacco has increased sixfold since 2000. So although income is much higher volume I am told is 25% of what is used to be in the days of the fast launched.

    Just to put the record straight.

  18. Anonymous at 18:15

    My piece is not predicated on revenue from tobacco duties ... nor have I made any comment on the level of tobacco duty revenues.

  19. Regarding voting. This should be restricted to those registered as Gibraltarians. Either by birth right or having resided for over 10 years in Gibraltar.

    Gibralatarians abroad should have the right to vote, it is unacceptable that a very high number of Gibraltarians who live for example in UK cant vote and any expat who has been here for just a few months is given the vote.

  20. Yes you have made statements on tobacco revenues. You stated only last week that everyone is fully aware of the fact that tobacco is a bigger problem today than it was 15 years ago, therefore suggesting that our income on it was higher and in turn imposing a large dependency on it from the part if our economy.
    Pleased to see that someone 18:15 is doing there homework.

  21. L.E.F.

    To anon 18.15

    I agree that we have to put the record straight.

    It is essential that facts and figures are correct to be able to truly assess the situation.

    However if the relevant information is denied to the public or presented as spin then we just have to do our own calculations.

    The only problem is that we all have to guess because figures are not available and not one of our elected representatives has the decency to tell us the exact amount. So we all end up guessing.

    I believe and agree 100 million to be over the top but I do not know how you have come up with 45 million and your other statistics.

    You see we come back to guess work and estimates and this is not good. To be able to convince one another we must start with the real facts or the real figures , if not we do not know what we are talking about or what we have to achieve.

    My argument would be with those who deny us this information.

    Those in Government who boast and trumpet how well Gibraltar does economically but then do not have the decency to give account of the exact amounts for political reasons.

    Why is the information not available ?

    Why does the opposition not know the real figure?

    Why does not anybody quote us a real figure ?

    Is this such a top secret that the public must not know ?

    This is not the way we want to be governed.We need to be informed properly so that we can resolve issues on fact and not speculations.

    We deserve much more from both government and opposition. We need transparency, accountability and honesty . It is our right to demand information.

    Correct and reliable information is owed to any democratic people . Why not us ?

    I agree that 100 million cannot be correct because the total of all import duties including fuel, cars, etc was year end March 2010 £54 million .

  22. Anonymous at 21:31

    I said the trade was up, which I am assured it is. Revenue is up also, not least because duty has been increased, even if volumes are down. The dependency on tobacco revenues continue whether you like it or not. It is not a matter of degree. I repeat that my piece is not predicated on the level of tobacco trade.

  23. On the subject of your piece. Two things, first a Govt by committee ( which is really what you allude to) is idealystic but does nothing for strong decisive Govt. Second your parliamentary reforms were suggested by PRC and so clearly he agrees with you or do you agree with him? It has to be cross party matter. The only problem is that the GSLP by most peoples reckoning is unable, unwilling and inept of any type of debate on an issue which deserves a debate! Joe Bossano very clearly made his I'll sit on the fence views known in todays Chronicle. What Gibraltar could be with a responsible, mature and accountable opposition, one thats wiling to turn umabd be counted, as opposed to one waiting, waiting, waiting for it's turn.

  24. Anonymous at 21:44

    I do not allude to or agree with government by committee. I do not know how you arrive at this mistaken conclusion.

    Yes the GSD government and PRC agreed and promised to reform Parliament, so to that extent we are in agreement. I do not know what reforms they are seeking because they have not explained what it is they want. The GSD has failed because they promised reform in their manifesto and have failed to deliver it.

    The excuse they give is that it is a cross party issue and the GSLP don't want it: RUBBISH! It is a GSD manifesto promise. The GSD are in government. The GSD have a parliamentary majority. The GSD are adept at using this to push through all that PRC wants done. It could easily have and has an obligation to deliver on this manifesto promise. The GSD has FAILED.

  25. Block vote block minds? whose doing your slogans, Louis Andlaw. Maybe you can have something like "in a galaxy far far away" for your intro to the independent coalition party manifesto...;) ICP has a ring to it.

  26. Anon 21:31

    I have commented on Tobacco revenue on LLW and not RV, he has merely made reference to my comments.

    Why don't you have a little stroll down Laguna Estate and check out what has happened to all the little KIOSKS?


  27. Bueno eh?Some light hearted stuff for a Sat evening. I agree the GSD could improve on reforms and a maybe with an intelligent opposition such as the ICP - who knows, but you get my point I'm sure.

  28. Anonymous at 22:01

    Brilliant ... mad me laugh no end ... more of that please ... slogan has been trashed! LOL

  29. This Kaelan kid gets very upset at anyone who dares to challenge you. His head seems to be well and truly lodged right up your blogg.

  30. Great piece RV.

    But I do wonder if such reforms can be actually undertaken.

    It does seem like an awful amount of work for ONE man! Goodluck your are going to need it :)


  31. To Anon 21:36
    The information is there and the opposition have on numerous ocassions have highlighted these issues. The problem is the sleepy media who should also be questioning this on one of the many interviews they give the Chief Minister.
    Answer to Q1 All the figures are available but no-one until now look at them.
    Q2 As I have said above the opposition have highlighted these issues but they find it difficult to diseminate this information, and when they do the controlled media will then have the CM interviewed ten times to contradict these FACTS.
    Q3 It is at times not easy to quote the real figures because at times there is no breakdown.
    One could understand why the GSLP did not want to show these but it seems that the GSD are trying to avoid the fact that revenues are higher then it was even during the peak time of the launches. The difference now is that it is a white collar activity as opposed to Los ninatos en lanchas. Its Covert undercover. This to me smacks of hypocracy!!!
    Where are all those who opposed the tobacco trade???
    I understand your frustration and feel that the GSD government who is in power NOW has a responsibility to tell us the truth.
    Why cannot we have an explanation from the GSD as to why we are paying consultants so much money?
    Explanation as to how much it has cost the taxpayer the fiasco in Waterport Terraces with the doors and windows? How much is it going to cost the taxpayer all the problems with Bruesa etc?

    There are many more questions that the GSD who PROMISED Transparency and accountability.

  32. "The difference now is that it is a white collar activity as opposed to Los ninatos en lanchas. Its Covert undercover." this is brilliant stuff, it's the suits doing it!!!!
    And best if all is the consultancy fees, if the opposition are banking on tobacco and consultancy fees as their fundamentals of policy and swoop in to take the electorate, we may as well start banging our heads against the wall and hope to achieve a speedy comatosed state of being before we loose our minds. Que viva el ICP a party that can challenge the GSD.

    If you are a GSLP voter and are on the verge of a breakdown, think of a galaxy far far away, one in which Red Rob Luke Skywalker Vasques is ready to challenge with actual policy. He promises to work on slogans, but look it will not get any worse that Dr G's "it's time for change"....;)

  33. May the Force be with you Skywalker.

  34. Dr G no sera Darth Vadar no? We know Joe is still Emperor, pero lo de Fabian no lo veo claro.

  35. I am intrigued as to how Back Benchers could be voted in? Would it be by district? hmmm, its a good idea, but I can't get my mind round how the voting would take place. Perhaps there should be electoral reform as well as Parliamentary reform.

  36. Anon (D) 13:37

    Thanks :)

    Anon 22:12

    All I did was state facts, nothing more and nothing less.


    Hopefully you can answer my query, that being....

    If Bossano and Caruana both agree (de lo cres?? Lolol) and acknowledge such reforms should be taking place in Parliament. Why has neither of them pushed for “change” to date?


  37. Anonymous at 23:38

    Of course there is a need for electoral reform also. I have said this ...

  38. Diz GSD saputars ar berry cleavers and spik berry guud inglish i aslo berry guud spunich i dats y dey ar sow pupula y fani berry fani y dats y dey jav de naim of DEMOCATS sori o is FATCATS witch mins dey ar de bet to luk four de hole of Gibralta no dat Gibralta is a whole anned Joe Bossano is no guud becos hi is not nice to dem, lles to de DEMOCATS, y hao yu say it, hi skares dem becos Bossano dos not spent como dey du y de rolo iz finated four de hole of Gibralta if hi getted into powa y if Caruana jas lot of powa Bossano can jav also lot of powa

    It a big poblem four Caruana anned oll his firends witch iz de hole of Gibralta, lles de hole of Gibralta witch is berry nice meni nice hauses a berry nice airput anned total oll berry wel anned unda berry guud soptrol, lles dey kry meni butter oll bye de shot anned kelly

    if dey went hawaiii, lles de DEMOCATS disapiad, de hole of Gibralta wood luus berry berry berry match

    wot iz 16 yias to bee waisted so berry budly lick por de face anned de, hau yu say it, a lles de culo o ass

    Bai yu lusas

  39. ANON 19 February 2011 12:57 don't waste more of our time with the PDP

    Would you like to tell LLanito World bloggers about the PDP's internal and unofficial stance on the 2006 Constitution when Guerrero and Olivero left the PDP?

    Caruana commands respect because he is open and always does what he says and he is an incredibly good leader







    RG Police yesterday executed search warrants under the Tobacco Act at Laguna Estate and other locations and seized 340 boxes of tobacco valued at approximately £300,000.
    Few details were available as this edition went to press but people in the area said plainclothes policemen filled at least four large vans with cases of cigarettes.
    A police spokesman said he was unable to comment because the operation was still in progress. It is understood that the operation focuses on illicit tobacco activity and breaches of the retail licence.
    Police are pictured above during the operation yesterday



  42. "Joe Bossano is no guud becos hi is not nice to dem, lles to de DEMOCATS, y hao yu say it, hi skares dem becos Bossano dos not spent como dey du y de rolo iz finated four de hole of Gibralta if hi getted into powa y if Caruana jas lot of powa Bossano can jav also lot of powa"

    Ohu dis gayi iz guud he veri guud, he fanny tu. Bossano maka de manny four oll boy in lancha y el gran sobrino tu, si el que vive en 55 line wall, wis Bossano mi abuela get £25 sousend pownd y cuando el niño Picardo Getz de powa po figura, lo vamo forra to. Ete si que save how tu make de moni, y eh colega tambien, los taxista y el union son su bruva, o eran, no se ya.

    So tu mi amigo 01:17, que viva Bossano y el niño y Darth tambien, que cuando el GSLP entre, lo foramo man.

    Vuti bruva

  43. 03:28. No picha they were all suits.

  44. Anon 10:04

    Misses the whole point.

    Mira bro/sis......

    Without the SUITS there would be no operation as such. Capish??? Lo cojes ya??

    Anon 03:28

    That was some useful bit of information....;)


  45. M.A.J.

    ARON 20 February 2011 10:02

    yu ar no mai guud firend, de gay jav raits two y carefree wot yu seis becos two llu i seis puff off i totaik yu to cot becos not is de fest taim dat dey gays wins in cot with evrithong anned raits of de low anned if llu dona laik it den dat yu jav a pig joni ap yoa guud smeli whole

    ass four de mata o de Picardo wi no laik yua tok becos hi ritch man. in da sosiati is ritch anned pua dats laif anned dat ju no laik it not gay butter cun twankoff anned puff off

    foration mai tata sed tis guud berry berry berry guuuuuudddd becos nating laik lika javin a hasband FARTCAT inn de plaigraund of de ritch. yu nows wot mins it?

    mi tella you wot ma papa sed "yu cryzi woman, yu stupid berry match, mi prefe two bee a rabit and berry berry gay evilday dan liv saraunded bai so meni FARTCATS becos no moore maus o fud butter four dem ownitall y berri berri berri smili faltz y waltz butter berri berri smeli anned meni critication of de gay anned de FARTCATS fait with dea nails annned mauz lika woman"

    ja, hau two rite mai papa woz.

    butter iven beta, mai tata, chi alown becos mai papa iz in jeven, jas no totali unchained ha mind butter shi daz not no weather dis FARTCAT bisnes is guuda o guuda not becos chi is berry nia de pier

    bai gambais if eni left o rite

  46. Robert sure you will make something out of this Uk offer to Malta

    Attempted integration with the United Kingdom
    After World War II, the islands achieved self-rule, with the Malta Labour Party (MLP) of Dom Mintoff seeking either full integration with the UK or else "self-determination (independence), and the Partit Nazzjonalista (PN) of Dr. George Borg Olivier favouring independence, with the same "dominion status" that Canada, Australia and New Zealand enjoyed.
    In December 1955, a Round Table Conference was held in London, on the future of Malta, attended by Mintoff, Borg Olivier and other Maltese politicians, along with the British Colonial Secretary, Alan Lennox-Boyd. The British government agreed to offer the islands their own representation in the British House of Commons, with the Home Office taking over responsibility for Maltese affairs from the Colonial Office.
    Under the proposals, the Maltese Parliament would retain responsibility over all affairs except defence, foreign policy, and taxation. The Maltese were also to have social and economic parity with the UK, to be guaranteed by the British Ministry of Defence (MoD), the islands' main source of employment. A referendum was held on 14 February 1956, in which 77.02 per cent of voters were in favour of the proposal,[7] but owing to a boycott by the Nationalist Party, only 59.17 per cent of the electorate voted, thereby rendering the result inconclusive.
    In addition, the decreasing strategic importance of Malta to the Royal Navy meant that the British government was increasingly reluctant to maintain the naval dockyards. Following a decision by the Admiralty to dismiss 40 workers at the dockyard, Mintoff declared that "representatives of the Maltese people in Parliament declare that they are no longer bound by agreements and obligations toward the British government..." [8] In response, the Colonial Secretary sent a cable to Mintoff, stating that he had "recklessly hazarded" the whole integration plan.[9] This led to the islands being placed under direct rule from London, with the MLP abandoning support for integration and now advocating independence.