21 July, 2007

Enlarging Assembly

Constitutional Discussions 10: Increasing the Number of Members of the House of Assembly. There are seven elected members in the Anguilla House of Assembly. There are four non-elected members. They are the Nominated and the Ex-officio Members. Seven elected representatives to debate all aspects of Anguilla’s life and problems! Most of them are not great speakers. Some of them are not great thinkers. Very few of the important issues get aired in Anguilla’s House of Assembly. We all listen on our radios to the broadcast debates. We come away frustrated, knowing each time that it was another opportunity missed.

One obvious way to improve the House is to increase the number of its members. There are other statistical arguments. The size of the Anguilla House was fixed in the 1970s. The population of Anguilla did not then exceed 6,000 souls. We are now nearer to 12,000. On that basis there is ground to suggest that the size of the House should be doubled. Elsewhere, the Commission has recommended that the two Nominated Members should be abolished. The Commission also recommended that the two ex-officio members, the Deputy Governor and the Attorney-General, should continue to be allowed to be present and to express their views, but should be deprived of the right to vote. That leaves seven voting members in the Assembly. For that reason, the number of members calls out to be increased.

During the public discussions, representations were made that the Assembly should be increased to as many as 21 elected representatives. Others wanted 15 representatives to ensure proper discussion and debate of the issues. One or two suggested leaving it at the present 11 voting members. The Commission, however, went with the majority. At paragraph 74 of its Report, it recommended that the House be increased to a total of 13 elected representatives. They were to be made up of nine from constituencies and four elected at large. That would amount to an increase of only two from the present 11 voting members of the Assembly.

Members of the Assembly disagreed. They are happy with an increase of only four, to a total of eleven elected representatives. That falls below most of the recommendations and representations made to the Commission during its research and discussions. It would not meet the expectations and aspirations of any part of the Anguillian public. It has no substance or merit, in my humble view.

Just my opinion.


  1. The constitution is a statement of how we, the people, consent to be governed. I did not delegate my right to choose the details to anyone else. None of my friends did either. We have 12,000 votes; the Ministers have 4. Where do they get off telling us what should be in our constitution?

  2. What is the purpose of the Planning Department, if ExCo can override any decision they take? What is the purpose of the Labour Department, if the Minister of Labour can issue work permits to enslaved people? What is the purpose of a Governor who talks about good governance, if he just sits there when there is corruption? What is the purpose of a Constitutional Review Commission, if the Ministers can do what they want?

  3. Following the comletion of the constitutional review, the Chief Minister did nothing for almost a year. Suddenly, three days before the review is about to begin, he needs more time? As Yanchie has written, "Bare with us."

    The Ledger
    Lakeland, Florida
    20 July 2007
    ANGUILLA: Caribbean island delays talks to seek more autonomy from Britain

    THE VALLEY, Anguilla (AP) - Anguilla's chief minister on Friday postponed talks aimed at seeking greater independence from Britain, saying the tiny island's inhabitants need more time to understand a constitutional reform process.

    Osbourne Fleming's announcement came days before Anguilla's leaders were to negotiate with officials from the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office to review the territory's status.

    He said the island's 13,000 inhabitants need more time to learn about the constitutional reform process.

    "There are serious implications for this move and we need to address them collectively before the British team arrives here," Fleming said. "The people have not been fully addressed."

    He did not say when the negotiations would take place.

    Earlier Friday, about 200 islanders marched to the office of the London-appointed governor to deliver a petition calling for a referendum on a new constitution.

    Many Anguillans support constitutional and electoral reforms to give the island more autonomy.

    U.K. officials have said Anguilla may propose any constitutional change, but Britain would retain the power to preserve good governance, judicial independence and ensure compliance with international obligations.


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