Premier: Legislative Assembly may get extra member

The ruling Progressives-led government may seek to add one more representative seat to the Legislative Assembly, Premier Alden McLaughlin confirmed this week.

The issue arose during debate on a private members motion filed by East End MLA Arden McLean. Mr. McLean sought the government’s approval for a three-month timeline for the implementation of single member voting districts ahead of the 2017 general elections.

Mr. McLaughlin mentioned during the proceedings that government was considering adjusting the number of elected Members of the Legislative Assembly from 18 to 19.

The premier said what occurred with the May 2013 general election made a strong point in favor of the establishment of an uneven number of representatives.

The Progressives won nine of 18 available seats in last year’s balloting. The other nine seats were split among three opposition United Democratic Party members, one member of the People’s National Alliance party and five independent members.

As it turned out, lone alliance member Juliana O’Connor-Connolly joined the Progressives and was made Speaker of the House, giving the party a 10-seat majority. In the days and weeks after the vote, Education Minister Tara Rivers joined the government as an independent member and independents Winston Connolly and Roy McTaggart joined the government backbench.

“Some of the independent members migrated to join the [government side of the House], but it could just have easily panned out the other way,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

In such a situation, Cayman would have what’s known as a “hung parliament” and would have to wait until a majority of members formed a government of at least 10 representatives or – if that was impossible – the governor might have been forced to call for new elections.

To avoid that happening in the future, the premier said, “One of the things that we are considering is adding an additional seat in the House.”

There had been some preliminary debate during the tenure of the previous United Democratic Party government about increasing to 19 the number of MLAs in the Legislative Assembly.

The opposition party at the time claimed that former Premier McKeeva Bush wanted to do so to increase the number of legislative seats in his home district of West Bay to five.

Mr. Bush denied all such statements and the change was never made.

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