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BERMUDA: ASSESSING PARLIAMENT


and report to this House its findings on the Legislature’s management structure and governance in order to provide an efficient and effective parliamentary service to the people of Bermuda.”


The Committee recognized that with rapidly developing knowledge- based and technology driven societies, Legislatures had been placed under intense scrutiny in the areas of transparency, accountability, effectiveness and fairness. It became more evident than ever, that the governance structure for Bermuda’s Legislature was outdated. Our Parliament had to adjust itself to be effective and efficient in providing parliamentary services in today’s information age.


Colourful alley in St George, Bermuda


Smith, the prime instrument used in this process was the CPA’s Eastern Caribbean template. It was a modernized set of common Standing Orders, produced in 2007 with technical expertise provided by the Ontario Legislative Assembly for use by the nine small Parliaments and Legislatures of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. Our parliamentary Rules and Privileges Committee set up a subcommittee comprised of Opposition Member John Barritt and Dame Jennifer. Thus began a process that had not been undertaken for over 20 years. The new Standing Orders were reviewed, updated and provisionally accepted by the House in 2010, and the


final acceptance was approved by Bermuda’s Parliament sometime during July 2013.


In light of, and in continuation of the process, on 19 July 2013, a Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary Governance and Reform was established with the unanimous approval of our House of Assembly. At that time I moved a motion which read: “In an effort to ensure that Bermuda’s Legislature meets the standards prescribed in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association benchmarks for democratic Legislatures; be it resolved that this Honourable House establish a Joint Select Committee. The Committee’s mandate is to examine, make recommendations


164 | The Parliamentarian | 2014: Issue Three


Shortly after the Committee’s first meeting held on 15 August 2013, the Committee Members agreed to break off in groups to gather information and make recommendations on the following themes – “Organization of the Legislature”, the “Function of the Legislature”, and the “Value and Ethics of the Legislature”. Their findings and recommendations formed an integral part of the Joint Select Committee’s report. The Committee also invited the public to make written submissions via email. In addition, they also extended personal invitations to various community leaders, and retired Premiers, Speakers, Clerks and other statesmen, to make verbal submissions.


The Committee examined the following themes:


• The governance structure of Parliament and support service; • The function of Parliament; and • The ethical governance of Parliament.


After much deliberation, the Joint Select Committee presented its final report to Parliament for approval. This approval was granted by Bermuda’s House of Assembly on 23 March 2014. At the same time, our Parliament also agreed that the proposed recommendations ought to be used as a quasi road map forward.


Recommendations and road map forward


The first question presented to our legislators was how can we create a sound structure and maintain a parliamentary service that is capable of achieving the services required by Parliament, together with maximum productivity and minimum expense? The second question asked was what were the challenges to achieving this result? In response to these questions, the Committee recommended that:


1. A new independent body known as The Management Commission, responsible for the administration of the Legislature, be established.


It was also agreed that the specific Terms of Reference for this Committee should be developed to include the term of office, quorum requirements, responsibilities and powers for the provision of adequate support services for Parliament. It should also encompass the recruitment and management of parliamentary staff, the determination of an annual budget to be approved by Parliament, and the monitoring of such annual budget. As is the case in the United Kingdom Legislature, the actual day-to-day management of the parliamentary service should be delegated to the Clerk of the House of Assembly. She will constitute an Administration Committee which will meet on a monthly basis. A monthly activity and management report will be generated by the Clerk, and will be presented to the Management Commission.


It was also agreed that the following House Committees should meet on a regular basis, or as needed, and prepare additional written reports for the Management Commission:


• Regulations Committee • Public Accounts Committee • Committee of the Auditor General • House and Grounds Committee • Register of Members Interests • Joint Select Committee on Private Bills • Standing Orders Committee.


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