29 July, 2007

Nominated Members

Constitutional Discussions 12: Nominated Members. The UK has its House of Lords. Antigua and Barbuda and Trinidad and Tobago have their Senate. This is an upper Chamber in what is called a “bi-cameral” parliamentary system. They have two chambers. We in Anguilla have one chamber, the House of Assembly. We have no House of Lords or Senate. Section 35 of the Constitution provides for two persons to be nominated to sit in the Assembly. One is to be nominated by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, and the other after consulting the Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. Nominated Members are, thus, not democratically elected members of the House. The official argument in their favour is that their presence provides an opportunity for non-political and independent views on issues to be expressed in the Assembly. Their true value is to provide an opportunity for patronage by the Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition. They are sometimes appointed from among the party’s candidates who failed to gain their constituency, but whose views their party leader continues to value.

The members of the public who expressed a view on the subject were unanimously opposed to the system continuing. A majority want the Nominated Members to go. The principle objection was that it was anti-democratic. The subsidiary reason was that, with a much increased number of elected members, there is no longer any merit in the argument that the Assembly will benefit from views other than those of the elected politicians. Accordingly, at paragraph 79 of its Recommendations, the Commission urged their abolition.

Members of the Assembly disagree. They prefer to keep the Nominated Members, but without a vote and with a disqualification for persons who had failed at an election bid. The disadvantage of losing an opportunity for patronage, at the expense of the taxpayer, was not lost on the Members of the Assembly. They were all hot to keep alive this perk of office alive!

1 comment:

  1. Both our present and former leaders have abused this provision for selfish party political purposes. Those who abuse our trust should not be surprised if we no longer trust them. Some of their appointments have resulted in appointees rising from anonymity to international ridicule -- to our embarrassment.

    Show me some leaders with integrity and maturity. THEN we can discuss full internal self government and other wet dreams. The finest plans have always been destroyed by the littleness of those who should carry them out.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.