Today marks 50 years from the day Gibraltar’s 1969 Constitution was commenced on 30 May 1969. The Constitution had come about following a Constitutional Conference in 1968 between the United Kingdom Government, Gibraltar’s Elected Members and the Integration with Britain Party.
It followed on from a report by the Constitutional Committee of Gibraltar’s legislature which had been debating the matter since October 1965 and the promise made by the UK to discuss with local leaders any appropriate constitutional changes that they wanted if the vote in the 1967 referendum went in their favor.
The 1969 Constitution will always be remembered for its Preamble. The Constitutional Talks almost broke down in 1968 precisely on this point.
The Preamble read: “Whereas Gibraltar is part of Her Majesty’s dominions and Her Majesty’s Government have given assurances to the people of Gibraltar that Gibraltar will remain part of Her Majesty’s dominions unless and until an Act of Parliament otherwise provides, and furthermore that Her Majesty’s Government will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their freely and democratically expressed wishes…”
The 1969 Preamble was replicated in the current 2006 Constitution.
The City Council and Legislative Council were merged at this time into a single body, the Gibraltar House of Assembly.
Fifty years later, it is important to recall the work of the Coalition Government, led by Sir Joshua Hassan and Peter Isola, and the role of the Integration with Britain Party led by Sir Robert Peliza in the negotiations at the time.