15 May, 2007

Politicians 3

Checks and Balances. Who put fowl to mind corn? (BVI proverb)

We are saying there are two main reasons why our most promising politicians eventually betray us. We have looked at community pressure as the first corrupting cause. What is the second corrupting factor? I would submit that it is the lack of adequate checks and balances in our Constitution. It is not lack of moral fibre. It is not lack of education. It is not lack of integrity. It is a lack of enforceable rules.

The Westminster Model constitution which we have inherited is intrinsically corrupting. It almost seems designed to promote corruption. One of its distinguishing characteristics is a complete absence of any mechanism to control abuse of power. Other than the opportunity afforded every five years to change the faces of the exploiters through election, there is no publicly enforceable restraint on abuse of power. There are no provisions for recall of an errant politician. There is no procedure for impeaching a Minister caught with his hands in the cookie jar. No, the Governor does not insist the police prosecute corrupt politicians. They are glad to have a handle on one unlucky enough to get caught. “Better the devil you know, etc, etc” There is no question of a referendum, or other mechanism for ensuring that the wishes of the people are followed when major decisions or changes in the law have to be made. There is nothing to ensure that misspent public funds will be questioned in a forum that can impose accountability. There is no working anti-corruption procedure. Cabinet controls the House of Assembly, so that the Legislature provides no oversight to protect the public interest. Our form of government is generally described as a Cabinet dictatorship.

What to do? We’ll look at that next.


  1. In 1990 the following section was added to our constitution. Has any action been taken on this in the ensuing 17 years?

    "Registration of interests.

    60A.—(1) The Speaker shall maintain a Register of Interests in accordance with this section.

    (2) It shall be the duty of each member of the Assembly to declare to the Speaker, for entry in the Register of Interests, such interests, assets, income and liabilities of that member, or of any other person connected with him, as may be prescribed by law.

    (3) A member of the Assembly shall make a declaration under subsection (2) of this section-
    (a) upon becoming a member of the Assembly;
    (b) at such intervals thereafter (being no longer than twelve months) as may be prescribed by law;
    (c) upon the acquisition of any interest, asset or liability which is not entered in the Register of Interests; and
    (d) upon the disposal of any interest, asset or liability which has been entered in the Register of Interests.

    (4) A law made under section 47 of this Constitution shall make provision for giving effect to this section." .

  2. Lets hope these rules apply to the speaker heself

  3. Listen to our parliamentarians today debating the motion brought by the second nominated member. First, let me say very timely was the motion in the face of the up surge in recent crimes. However, like everything thing else talk, talk. No one proposed the means whereby the House will deal with the findings for the reasons that has given rise to the crimes.

    I was impressed by the arguments advanced by the mover of the motion and also believe that she is a very brave person to have brought such a motion to the House without fear of being castigated after standing before the court recently on criminal charges. I felt that the Hon Minister of Finance was organized in the manner that he debated the issues, as well as The Hon attorney General. The Hon Edison Baird’s argument pointed to the very development as a possible cause, but I was disappointed that he failed to make the nexus between poor strategic economic policies by government that has led to the out of control labour and immigration nightmare that the nation is experiencing, and further to cry shame on Gov't to have employed the architect of this screwed up policy as an adviser after serving as the immediate past Permanent Secretary. The Hon CM , Member for West End and Member for Island Harbour once again proved that the House of Assembly is not the place for them. The quality of their debate was fit for forty years ago. The Hon member for Rd South good until he got off on his usual tantrums. Disappointed that the Hon Deputy Governor did not make a contribution on the motion (Young, Brilliant and gutless) where is the commitment that supposedly should be shown by one of those who should lead???

    I must give some credit to the member for Island Harbour, he was the only one who briefly made a nexus of the criminal activities and drug abuse or use. None of the other made mention. I am of the strong opinion even without the facts to believe that if we are serious about dealing with crimes let us be serious in our dealings with the drug lords and those who are abusing drugs. Speak of scourge, therein it lies.

  4. ... and how about the United States citizens representatives(the four ministers of government). Is this a constitutional ill?

  5. The house of Assembly was a pleasure to listen to today, Everything seemed to be in order for once. The mover of the motion was dynamic, and the support from Mr Baird Mrs Banks especially was very good Mr Hughes spoke well and alluded to the ills that is plaging us with those projects. I often wonder what is happening with the placement of all the managers in immigration and labour if it is not intentional for the government to have their way without any challenge towards them, I cannot imagine how they can allow what is happening to happen.

  6. Objective analysis of the House of Assembly debate on Tuesday 15 May 2007:

    Social Security must be further down on the agenda. They didn't get that far, and will meet again next Tuesday at 9.

    Keesha presented two excellent motions and a discussion on crime. One was to give the police whatever they need, and provide the necessary funding. The CM said they're already doing that. The other motion was to support the police in doing their job, while the House establishes a committee of experts to determine the CAUSES of crime, and how to intervene before kids become criminals. She said it's time we started listening to people like social workers and psychologists. I was pleased. I don't like her, I think she's arrogant and I don't trust her, so from me this is a high compliment.

    Victor got it. He commented that a lot of people are saying they can't reach the young people and have given up. "But we HAVE to reach them and we have to learn how to do it." He is right.

    WISE is doing exactly this, but is seriously underfunded. If they include Rhonda Conner on this committee instead of a bunch of retired teachers and preachers, we'll know they're serious. Rhonda is an education psychologist, and is being denied the funding to do what she knows how to do. Her education cost a lot of money. Neil runs things and doesn't listen to her. How smart is that?

    Eddie spend his whole time blaming government for crime and saying he was not there to blame anyone. His theme was that rapid development always causes crime. Eddie is a turd.

    Belto thinks robbers and drug dealers spend their free time listening to the House of Assembly, and appealed to them to behave. Keesha had said she was setting a precedent because nominated members don't bring motions. Belto, who thinks "precedent" means "permission," assured her that the law allows her to bring a motion. Belto is why all elected members should be elected island-wide, like in Montserrat.

    Kenneth's understanding of the causes of crime is somewhat dim. He agreed with Belto that the answer is to beat children with a rod.

    Hubert talked about Henry VIII. For a long time.

    Bunton was extremely defensive about Quincy's letter about work permit fees. He doesn't understand that it would work better to talk to the people BEFORE government takes action on things, rather than wait until people are calling him names like on Talk Your Mind last week.

    Donna was angry and outrageous and attacked the "Social Services Department" for failing to do a whole lot of things. She, also, understands the value of looking at the causes of crime and how we might address these social factors.

    Victor responded by reading a number of social services promises from the 2005 Manifesto and commented that it's time to stop talking and take action!

    Neil was at his son's graduation in the US. On Thursday he will be unable to attend the WISE open day because of his son's graduation. I wonder how many days he'll be gone. His malfeasance seems to have become an embarrassment even to his colleagues. Someone should beat he with a rod.


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