The Legislative Assembly passed a landmark motion Monday to make it an administratively autonomous and independent body.
The new arrangement is intended to allow for better separation of powers, which is a fundamental building block of constitutionalism.
‘Presently, the Parliament operates as a Department which falls under the Chief Secretary responsible for the Portfolio of Internal Affairs and the Civil Service, who is a Member of the Cabinet,’ said George McCarthy, First Official Member who currently holds the position.
‘This means that the Parliament is very much dependent on forces outside the realm of the Legislative Assembly with respect to decisions made affecting its human resource, finance and information technology needs.’
If the change is approved by Cabinet, in the future the Legislative Assembly will be administered by a newly-formed Legislative Assembly Management Commission comprised of members of both Government and the Opposition, chaired by the House Speaker.
The role of Speaker will then more closely resemble that of the Chief Justice, as the Speaker will preside over the general administration of the legislative arm of Government
‘Such separation will give credence to the integrity of Parliament as an independent body,’ said Mr. McCarthy.
‘The new Commission’s constitution will guarantee that the best interests of both sides of the House are taken into consideration when decisions are made, as well as assure that such decision making is not swayed by external influences.’
Mr. McCarthy said autonomy will also improve efficiency as it will allow for the Legislative Assembly to draw on improved and enhanced staff, IT and financial resources.
Mr. McCarthy explained the move is a legacy of a process first initiated by former Speaker Linford Pierson, who believed Parliament should not be constrained by the strictures of the Civil Service, and which enjoys the support of the current speaker, Edna Moyle, as well.
The new Cayman Islands arrangement will be modelled on the successful Caribbean precedent set in Barbados, which was implemented in 1990.
The timeliness of the Cayman Islands initiative also fits well with a recent report released by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the World Bank Institute advocating greater separation between government branches.
‘We have matured as a Government: the timing is right, the will is there and we have the right people on board to make this work. It will give the Speaker the autonomy she deserves, and the greater associated efficiency will make for a better, more accountable system for all,’ he said.