Lawmakers have voted unanimously to approve constitutional changes that will alter how the UK legislates for the Cayman Islands and the relationship between the two going forward.
The changes also remove some of the reserve powers held by the Governor, including the ability to write legislation.
Premier Alden McLaughlin brought the government motion on the changes Friday in the Legislative Assembly.
McLaughlin, at the close of the debate on the motion, expressed pride over the unity displayed by fellow legislators, all of whom recognised the importance of the changes and the urgency to get it approved before the UK election is held on 12 Dec.
“We have done the country proud this day. I believe in time this decision, what I expect to be an unanimous decision of this House, will be looked upon as one of the critical points in the continued development and maturity of these islands as a constitutional democracy,” Premier McLaughlin said he closed the debate on the government motion on the changes.
Declaring the vote, House Speaker McKeeva Bush announced the division of 18 ayes and no against.
“If I could vote I would say aye too,” Bush quipped.
While there was consensus, Opposition Leader Arden McLean still maintained his concern over the Governor’s ability to address the Legislature without any stated objective outlined in the changes.
It leaves the possibility for the “disruption of the political harmony” of the Cayman Islands, he said.
McLean, in a brief comment to the Cayman Compass on the passage of the motion, welcomed the actions demonstrated by fellow lawmakers through their unanimous support of the changes.
“It is important that the Legislative Assembly works in unison on matters of such importance to the country,” he said. “It is clear that the entire membership of our legislature recognizes that this constitutional reform is important to the advancement of our autonomy and governance. I applauded the members for voting unanimously in support of the changes.”
Legislators, in their contributions, agreed with the changes, but they maintained that wider public involvement was needed.
To this end the Premier announced the creation of a website, www.exploregov.ky/constitutionalreform, where the public can access key constitutional documents and give input.
North Side MLA Ezzard Miller, who was part of the negotiating team for the changes, welcomed Friday’s unanimous vote.
“These constitutional changes approved by the legislators tonight (Friday) will greatly enhance the ability of Caymanians to govern Cayman for Caymanians,” Miller told the Cayman Compass.
The changes that were debated were issued together with a letter from UK Overseas Territories Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad last month.
The changes contained a mandatory requirement for the UK to consult with the premier on any legislation or Orders in Council that may directly affect the Cayman Islands and that Cabinet offer its view on the legislation or Order.
The changes also included provisions removing the governor’s power to write legislation and standing orders, as well as the right to disallow any legislation.
The UK would usually require a referendum for constitutional changes unless the reforms are declared by the premier and leader of the opposition to be minor or not controversial.
Both the Premier and Opposition Leader agreed that while the changes were significant, they were not controversial and therefore a vote was not necesssary.
Now that the motion has been passed in the House unanimously the decision will be conveyed to the UK to take the process forward.
Read the full story in Monday’s newspaper.
Breakdown of some of the changes:
- Mandatory consultation on laws directly affecting the Cayman Islands
- 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 minister (deferred until the next election)
- Creation of Parliamentary Secretaries
- Creation of a Police Service Commission
9:39pm: Updated to include comments from Opposition Leader Arden McLean and North Side MLA Ezzard Miller.