No code of conduct for legislators

Behaviour in public not grounds for removal

The Legislative Assembly is set to meet on 22 and 23 April, Premier Alden McLaughlin announced Thursday.

As Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush faces allegations of assault, the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly confirmed this week that it does not have a code of conduct by which its members are required to abide.

“Most parliaments do have a code of conduct but Cayman does not,” a spokesperson for the Legislative Assembly told the Cayman Compass.

A formal human resources policy exists for civil servants and the Public Service Management Law outlines values and behavioural expectations for government employees, but neither the policy nor the law applies to lawmakers, the spokesperson said.

The civil service human resources policy does not apply to legislators, a spokesperson from the Portfolio of the Civil Service also confirmed.

Also, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, of which Cayman’s legislature is a branch, does not have an overarching code of conduct for its members. Bush is chairman of the CPA’s Small Branches Executive Council, on which he represents all small countries in the world body.

Codes of conduct for elected politicians do exist in the UK. In 2005, the House of Commons approved the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament. Section V (15) of the code states: “Members shall at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament and never undertake any action which would bring the House of Commons, or its Members generally, into disrepute.”

The Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009 outlines circumstances that would cause a member’s seat to become vacant. None of those, however, address a member’s behaviour in public. Should any MLA be charged with a crime, the Constitution calls for disqualification only for members who have served prison sentences of more than 12 months or who have had such sentences suspended, or have committed crimes of dishonesty.

According to the Cayman Islands Constitution: 

Disqualifications for elected membership 62(1): No person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly who –

(a) is, by virtue of his or her own act, under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state;

(b) holds, or is acting in, any public office;

(c) has been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law in force in any part of the Commonwealth or the United States of America and has not been discharged;

(d) is a person certified to be insane or otherwise adjudged to be of unsound mind under any law in force in the Cayman Islands;

(e) subject to subsection (2), is serving or has served a sentence of imprisonment (by whatever name called) exceeding twelve months imposed on him or her by a court in any country or substituted by competent authority for some other sentence imposed on him or her by such a court, or is under such a sentence of imprisonment the execution of which has been suspended, or has been convicted by any court in any country of an offence involving dishonesty;

(f) is disqualified for election by any law in force in the Cayman Islands by reason of his or her holding, or acting in, any office the functions of which involve— (i) any responsibility for, or in connection with, the conduct of any election; or (ii) any responsibility for the compilation or revision of any electoral register;

(g) is a party to, or a partner in a firm or a director or manager of a company which is a party to, any contract with the Government for or on account of the public service and has not, within the period of one month immediately preceding the date of an election in which he or she is a candidate, caused to be published a Government Notice setting out the nature of such contract and his or her interest, or the interest of any such firm or company, in it; or

(h) is disqualified for membership of the Assembly by any law in force in the Cayman Islands relating to offences connected with elections.

Tenure of office of elected members

63. The seat of an elected member of the Legislative Assembly shall become vacant –

(g) subject to section 64, if any circumstances arise that, if he or she were not a member of the Assembly, would cause him or her to be disqualified for election to it by virtue of any provision of section 62(1) other than paragraph (g).

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