What Does Full Internal Self-Government Really Mean? There are those who believe that it has to do with replacing the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with our elected ministers. Those of you who read the blog regularly will know that I do not subscribe to such a simplistic theory. If that is what the meaning is, then I want to have nothing to do with it. Those British live far from us, and do not impinge on our liberties. At least, they do not do it much and they do not do it every day. Our elected officials are charged with charting our course and setting policies and programmes for the safe and controlled growth of our country in the future. They have their weaknesses and their faults. We see it every day. They live right here in our back yards. Every little weakness and fault immediately impacts on us. We well know the disaster that awaits us when we give them the discretion to issue licences and permits of every kind to whoever influences them the most. This is not just the dolphin circus. It includes dealing with some very unsavory characters over the years.
So, it was with much satisfaction that I read this comment sent to me by a correspondent, graphics included, a few minutes ago.
Full internal self-government does not only mean excluding the Governor from Cabinet. It also means:
1. Ministers having to expose their workings more to the people;
2. an independent Civil Service Commission, and Police Service Commission taking the place of the Governor’s discretion;
3. having a Freedom of Information Act so people can find out more easily what is going on;
4. putting in place anti-corruption and integrity legislation and institutions;
5. having an Ombudsman to help the people get justice when the administration behaves improperly;
6. making Cabinet meetings generally open to the public;
7. prohibiting sale of government land without a resolution of the House of Assembly;
8. making the Planning Committee independent of Ministerial over-rule, but with provisions for the citizen to appeal unreasonable decisions to an appeal tribunal and to the court;
9. entrenching the grant of work permits and Belonger certificates in professional boards and tribunals, and not subject to political influence.
I could not agree more, so far as they go. But, I believe we could add a whole litany of other essential constitutional ingredients if we are to live freely and prosperously with full internal self-government. The Chief Minister’s committee meets this Friday coming to discuss the way forward in dealing with the British government. Though he has sued me, I assume I am still a member of the committee. Until he dismisses me from his committee, I shall stay there, attending all meetings, and urging that these essentials be included in any new Constitutional proposals that we negotiate with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.