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It should also be noted that the structure, and enforceability of all House Committees should be regularly reviewed and amendments made as necessary.

Functions of Bermuda’s Parliament

The functions of Bermuda’s Parliament proceeds from its role as the supreme representative body of the Bermudian people, and from that of the single legislative authority of the country.

Our constitution has adopted a parliamentary system of government more commonly understood, or known as “the Westminster model”. Under such a system there is an interesting mixture of the legislative and executive organs of the State. Thus while the Executive is the main driving force in terms of developing legislation to implement its programmes, and stated agenda objectives, it is necessary to ensure accountability and control of the Executive within the Legislature. This aspect of accountability and control should always be borne in mind. With the above as a precursor, the Joint Select Committee came up with the following recommendations.

Recommendations for the functions of Parliament 1. The Legislature should provide each elected Member with adequate and appropriate resources within his or her constituency, to enable him/ her to fulfil their representational functions.

2. Members and staff of Parliament must have the authority to receive technical and advisory assistance from legitimate and reputable institutions or organizations. They should also have the ability to network and exchange experience with individuals from other Legislatures. 3. The Legislature should provide adequate mechanisms to encourage wider consultations and public submissions on Bills introduced. 4. Historically, from a community outreach perspective, Bermuda’s Parliament is seen to be somewhat stoic, and detached from the

community. This must change. Going forward, Bermuda’s Parliament must be an integral part of the Community, and this committee wants the community to fully understand the role of Parliament, and what Parliament is doing for them. Parliament must use all forms of media to achieve this endeavour. 5. Information must be provided to the public in a timely manner regarding matters under consideration by the Legislature.

6. The Legislature must have mechanisms in place to obtain information from the Executive that is sufficient to exercise its oversight function, in a meaningful and timely manner.

7. The oversight authority of the Legislature could include:

• Meaningful and timely oversight of state owned enterprises; • Meaningful and timely oversight of compliance with international trea- ties and obligations; and • Meaningful and timely oversight of accountability institutions, such as Elections Commissions, Human Rights commissions, Anti-corruption Commissions, Ombudsmen, informa- tion commissions and office of Auditor General.

8. These oversight committees must also provide meaningful opportunities for minority, or Opposition Members and Independents to engage in effective oversight of government expenditures. The Public Accounts Committee and other oversight committees should be chaired by a Member of the Opposition or an Independent.

9. Oversight committees should also have access to financial records and related documentation sufficient to be able to meaningfully review the accuracy of Executive Branch reporting on its revenues and expenditures.

10. There should be a parliamentary calendar produced annually that shows the dates for sessions of Parliament including the expected recess dates.

11. The Standing Orders Committee

should continually review and make recommendations for amendments to the Standing Orders.

Recommendations for an ethical governance of Parliament

As Parliamentarians have one of the worst reputations from a professional perspective, we must address this stigma and practice ethical governance. This should be an important requirement for any elected body. As stated in the 2011 CPA report on “Recommended Benchmarks for the CPA Caribbean, Americas, and Atlantic Region Democratic Legislators”: “Members should maintain high standards of accountability, transparency and responsibility in the conduct of all public and parliamentary matters.” “The Legislature shall approve and enforce a code of conduct, including rules on conflicts of interest, and the acceptance of gifts.” With the above in mind,

Bermuda’s Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary Governance and Reform made the following recommendations:

• 1. An Ethics Committee should be established. This Committee should consist of Members from all political parties, and Independ- ent Members. Members from both Houses should be appointed to oversee the application of the Code. • Members will be required to fully comply to any requests from the Ethics Committee, when an inves- tigation into a Member’s conduct is undertaken. • The Committee report must include findings and recommenda- tions to be submitted to the Speaker of the House. • The House may also impose a sanction on a Member where it is considered necessary.

2. A Member’s Code of Conduct should be established and as paraphrased from the UK Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament, its general principles should include for consideration:

a) Selflessness; b) Integrity; c) Objectivity; d) Accountability; e) Openness;

f) Honesty and transparency; and g) Leadership.


Given the current information and technology driven age, and the popularity of social media, worldwide parliamentary standards are continuously evolving and all Parliaments can be sources of valuable innovations regardless of their size or age.

For the Parliament of Bermuda, it was important to develop benchmarks based on the unique traditions and parliamentary practices of our region. It was also noted that although Bermuda’s Parliament has some distance to go towards meeting the recommended benchmarks, its Parliamentarians recognize that they must make gradual steps toward reaching the ultimate goal.

In closing it should be noted that Bermuda’s Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary Governance and Reform report is currently being used as a road map forward. In addition, the Premier of Bermuda at the beginning of August presented a Cabinet Memorandum to Cabinet advising them that the Bermuda Parliament is moving forward in meeting the standards prescribed in the CPA’s parliamentary Benchmarks. Moreover, on behalf of the Joint Select Committee, and Bermuda’s Parliament, I will be presenting amendments to Bermuda’s parliamentary act to include the establishment and operations of a new Parliamentary Management Commission. The legislation should be tabled and approved when Parliament reconvenes after the summer recess this autumn. This action should bring more independence to Parliament, and ultimately provide better and more effective parliamentary services to the people of Bermuda.

The Parliamentarian | 2014: Issue Three | 165

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