(CNS): MLA Ezzard Miller has resigned as chair of the parliamentary oversight committee that deals with the Office of the Complaints Commissioner as a result of government’s plan to merge the OCC with the Information Commissioner’s Office and a new police complaints commission. He also revealed that most of the other committee members had followed him in protest.
Presenting what is likely to be the last ever annual report tabled by the committee, he said he believed the goal and function of the OCC would be diminished by the merger and the independence of the office would be undermined.
He said the OCC had done a good job and he called on his parliamentary colleagues to read what may be its last report.
One of the very first issues seized on by government from the Ernst and Young report, Project Future, even though it was merely a passing note in a wide review of the public service, with far more prominent recommendations on how government could cut the size of its bureaucracy, the Project Future team has been working harder on this than almost any other recommendation.
The fact that the merger offers only a small saving in government’s three quarters of a million-dollar annual budget, both the ICO and the OCC have expressed concerns, echoed by opposition MLAs and members of the public, that there is a reason, as yet undisclosed, for the government’s stated goal to create the supra-ombudsman’s office.
Miller noted that the committee was not consulted about the proposed change, despite having oversight of what is supposed to be an independent government office, and that there is no indication whether the new ombudsman’s office will still have parliamentary oversight.
He said that he had not been informed about how the new office would work, and in protest he had submitted his resignation.
Following Miller’s comments, the peaker confirmed she had also received resignations from the two West Bay members of the committee, Bernie Bush and Captain Eugene Ebanks, as well as from the Bodden Town member, Alva Suckoo. The only committee member who has not resigned is the government back-bencher and George Town member, Roy McTaggart.
See Miller’s comments in CIGTV video below, starting at 18:20: