The recruitment process for the next Governor of Gibraltar is already under way, and the Foreign Office hopes to make an announcement in the spring, Douglas Alexander, Foreign Office Minister has told the Commons. Peter Caruana, Chief Minister, is being consulted on this process.
Sir Francis Richards is due to leave in summer and the statement comes just weeks after the Chronicle revealed that the option of a military governor is being considered.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in consultation with the Ministry of Defence will consider candidates to succeed Sir Francis Richards as Governor of Gibraltar, he told the Commons.
At Gibraltar Day last year there was intense speculation that military possible are Sir Michael Jackson, Sir Michael Walker and Sir Alan West.
"In keeping with the commitment made by the then Foreign and Commonwealth Office Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Baroness Amos, at the Overseas Territories Consultative Council in September 2002, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar will be involved in the consultation process," said Mr Alexander.
To a question from Lyndsay Hoyle MP on the transfer of powers Mr Alexander said that Mr Caruana had written to Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, in December 2003 formally tabling proposals for the reform of the 1969 Gibraltar Constitution.
"These proposals have been considered very carefully and have been the subject of two rounds of discussion between officials and a cross-party Gibraltar delegation, led by the Chief Minister. The Foreign Secretary recently met the Chief Minister to discuss a number of the more important issues. Substantial progress has been made, but a number of outstanding issues remain".
On the trilateral talks process the minister stated that these are progressing well and they are likely to meet again in the first half of next month.
MOD: No Change Meanwhile also replying to Mr Hoyle, the Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram confirmed that there are no plans to change Gibraltar's current military role, which centres on providing a forward mounting base and other facilities to support overseas operations. This role will be kept under regular review, he said.
"An Infrastructure Service Provider (ISP) is to be introduced covering a number of facilities management functions. Introduction of the ISP will be based on a fair and open competition, which includes consideration of an in-house option. Efficiency measures will be achieved without reduction in output. These are essential to safeguard the Ministry of Defence's long-term commitment to Gibraltar."
"The Navy, Army and Airforce Institution (NAAFI) facility in Gibraltar, providing a range of retail services comparable with those at other overseas stations where UK armed forces and their families are based, is located at Devil's Tower Camp. It is NAAFI's intent to open an additional facility at Europa Point in the near future."
He also said that an Integrated Healthcare Facility at Devil's Tower Camp will replace the Royal Naval Hospital (RNH) and the Joint Medical Centre and Dental Unit (JMDU). This project is on schedule to open in November 2007, at which point the RNH and JMDU sites will be handed over to the Government of Gibraltar.
Improvements are being made to the internal condition of St. Christopher School, and a programme is under way to develop management at the school. (Chronicle)