Calls for legislators to support the United Kingdom’s package of constitutional changes featured in the ongoing budget debate in the Legislative Assembly.
Describing the changes as “possibly a once in a lifetime offer,” George Town South MLA Barbara Conolly urged unity in the House to push the reform through.
Conolly said the changes “provide protections against overreach by the UK, as well as [emphasizing] the sovereignty of this legislative body, with regard to managing our own affairs.”
Last week, after almost a year of discussions, the UK issued its proposed changes for the Cayman Islands Constitution. Among its concessions, negotiated by Premier Alden McLaughlin and then-Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller, was a mandatory consultation with Cayman on any acts of the British Parliament or orders in council that will extend to the Cayman Islands.
Further concessions agreed to by the UK included removal of the governor’s power to write legislation, the governor’s power to disallow legislation and clarification that the Cayman Islands Cabinet has autonomous capacity for domestic affairs.
Conolly, in addressing the changes, also folded in government’s $200 million port project as she urged legislators to throw their support behind Premier McLaughlin.
“I really hope we in this House today can put aside petty politics and vote yes for the port project and yes for this package of valuable constitutional changes, both are possibly once in a lifetime… offers that may not return easily if thrown aside,” said Conolly.
Miller, in his contribution to the debate, also called for fellow MLAs to support the changes.
Commenting on the changes to the governor’s power, Miller said, “We got much more than I thought we were going to get.”
He urged lawmakers to take the changes to their constituents to get consensus so the premier can to move the process forward.
“We all going around, some campaigning for the port, some against the port, [it’s a] good opportunity to talk about the constitution. You’ve got an audience; if you throw in the debate about the [same-sex] court case, you probably get a full house,” said Miller.
He said by doing this, legislators can help the premier demonstrate to the UK that there is no need for a referendum.
“If we go out and have meetings in our constituencies and come here and debate the bill he brings here, and say ‘I have talked to my constituencies, my constituency supports this change’, it is better for Cayman. It is improved governance of Cayman by Caymanians, that’s what we need,” the North Side MLA said.
Removal of governor’s power to write legislation
Removal of governor’s power to write standing orders for the LA
Renaming the Legislative Assembly to Parliament
Addition of an eighth government minister
Creation of parliamentary secretaries
Creation of a Police Service Commission