National Security Council explored

Constitutional review

East End MLA Arden McLean is so upset with policing in the area that he is calling a public meeting for Thursday night.

He aired his frustration during a discussion of the governor’s responsibilities and a proposal for a National Security Council at the Constitutional Review meeting in East End last Thursday. The governor has special responsibility for defence, external affairs, internal security, the police, the appointment of civil servants and appointments of the judiciary.

Mr. McLean, who is also minister for Communication, Works and Infrastructure, said elected representatives cannot tell the Governor or the police how to do policing.

But he gave the example of asking for 24-hour policing in East End. He is told it will cost more money, so he goes to the Legislative Assembly and convinces members to vote the money. ‘We set the policy; we get the money — and the 24-hour policing?’ East End does not have it,’ he said.

This government had committed $55 million for the police over four years, he pointed out. He asked who knew best what the districts need.

The Constitutional Review proposal is for a National Security Council to advise the governor on questions concerning internal security or the police.

‘The governor should act in accordance with this advice unless he considers it would be contrary to Her Majesty’s interests. The police commissioner should provide the National Security Council with regular briefings,’ states a summary booklet issued by the Constitutional Review Secretariat and distributed at all meetings.

The proposal is for a National Security Council to be comprised of the governor as chairman, the premier, the attorney general, the commissioner of police and two other ministers.

One man in the audience suggested that two members of the public be added to the council.

CRS Director Suzanne Bothwell said Gibraltar, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands have been able to go into partnership with their governors in looking at internal security. ‘This is not about giving politicians power over police,’ she stated.

Education Minister Alden McLaughlin referred to difficulties ministers have because ‘we are held responsible for things over which we have no control.’

Mrs. Bothwell reminded everyone that the Constitutional Review came about because the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1999 began encouraging all Overseas Territories to re-examine their constitutions. Cayman had a series of public meetings held by Constitutional Modernization Review Commissioners, who reported their conclusions in February 2002.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said the proposals being put forward are simply starting points to get people thinking about options. ‘The important thing about this phase is to interact with you and get your thought…. What we go to London to negotiate with reflects what the people want.’

One woman was concerned that the Governor should retain his reserve powers. Mrs. Bothwell said the summary of proposals contained ‘only what we would like to see changed’, and there was no suggestion of wanting to change the governor’s reserve powers.

The woman said that should be put in the proposals so people would know.

The meeting was held at the United Church Hall and attracted an estimated 34 people, some of whom arrived after discussions started or left before they ended close to 11pm. Mrs. Bothwell said East End’s meeting was the last one of the first round.

In the seven meetings to date, ‘we have spoken to 400 people so far,’ she reported. She encouraged everyone to come out to any of the next 10 meetings across the Cayman Islands.

During the second round, the new Constitutions of other Overseas Territories will be presented so that audiences can see what they have negotiated and make comparisons.

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