Opposition Leader Arden McLean has said he has yet to be briefed on the constitutional changes proposed by the UK.
Premier Alden McLaughlin on Wednesday outlined the UK’s suggested changes, which were issued Monday together with a letter from Overseas Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad.
The changes include a requirement for the secretary of state to notify the premier of any proposed instances of the UK legislating for Cayman, including Orders in Council.
This, the premier said in his statement, was an “incredible concession,” one that would only exist in the Cayman Islands Constitution.
Other changes announced Wednesday include the removal of the governor’s power to write or disallow legislation and clarification that the Cayman Islands Cabinet has autonomous capacity with respect to domestic affairs.
“I hope, God willing, to bring to this House early in the New Year the bill finally severing executive authority for this assembly being exercised by the governor,” the premier said.
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly Wednesday night, McLean said he has yet to read the documents Lord Ahmad had issued.
However, in his brief statement on the issue, McLean outlined his involvement in the process to get the changes.
McLean said the premier, in his congratulatory letter to him when he was appointed Opposition Leader, offered to brief him on the constitutional talks.
“I accepted this is in writing, but I am yet to receive a reply from the premier,” he said.
McLean pointed out that it would be “disingenuous” for anyone to suggest there was consensus within the Opposition on the proposed constitutional changes that the government took to the UK.
“That is really stretching it, because it did not happen,” McLean said.
It was during North Side MLA Ezzard Miller’s tenure at the helm of the Opposition that discussions with government were held on the proposed changes.
Miller and then deputy Opposition Leader Alva Suckoo participated in discussions held in London on the changes.
A briefing on the London talks was planned but, McLean said, “other events” overtook that opportunity. This was prior to Miller’s resignation from the Opposition earlier this year.
Lord Ahmad, in his letter to the premier, said generally the policy of the UK government has been to require a referendum unless the reforms are declared by the premier and leader of the Opposition to be minor or uncontroversial. The UK minister asked the premier to explain his case if the decision was not to hold a referendum on the proposed changes.
The minister added that with a general election called in the UK and under the rules of Purdah he will not be able to make any new decisions that bind any future government.
Purdah is the pre-election period in the United Kingdom, specifically the time between the announcement of an election and the formation of the new elected government.
Some of the proposed constitutional changes
Removal of governor’s power to write legislation
Removal of governor’s power to write standing orders for the Legislative Assembly
Renaming the Legislative Assembly to Parliament
Addition of an eighth government minister
Creation of parliamentary secretaries
Creation of a Police Service Commission