UK agrees constitutional changes

| 13/11/2019 | 46 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin presents constitutional reform package to MLAs

(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin said the UK has made some “incredible” concessions regarding amendments to the Cayman Islands Constitution and members of the Legislative Assembly “would be fools if we were to look this gift horse in the mouth”. Reading a letter from the UK overseas territories minister on Wednesday, McLaughlin outlined what he said were hard fought improvements but the UK is seeking cross party support and justification to avoid a referendum from Cayman before it green-lights the changes.

McLaughlin detailed some of the amendments that Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon confirmed in his letter along with a draft order, which have been accepted in principle by the British government. But Lord Ahmad asked the premier to confirm how he proposed to ensure widespread public support for the changes if they are not to be the subject of a referendum.

“As you know the next step in agreeing this package is to obtain the broadest possible cross party and public support for these reform,” Lord Ahmad wrote in his letter. He went on to say that the UK usually requires a referendum for constitutional change unless the premier and opposition leaders all agree to them and they are not considered controversial.

“I would be grateful if you would outline how you intend to seek the broadest possible support for the reforms to the constitution both within the Legislative Assembly and the wider public. If the decision was not to hold a referendum it would be helpful if you could explain the case for not doing so.”

The UK minister asked the premier to confirm that the Cayman Islands Government accepted the package of reforms but pointed out that, since the UK itself is going to the polls in just one month, no policy decisions could be enacted until after the election and a new government is in place.

The amendments were negotiated by a government delegation to London that included the opposition leader at the time, Ezzard Miller, and, according to the premier, Deputy Opposition Leader Alva Suckoo, who remains in post. But since then, the current opposition leader, Arden McLean, who replaced Miller just a few months after the UK trip, has said the changes should go to the people for a vote, so the previous consensus at the time of the talks is now in question.

Setting out why he believes these amendments are very good for Cayman and why they are important, McLaughlin warned members not to pass up the opportunity. He explained that the changes were about ensuring that, as representatives of the people, the members of the Legislative Assembly, which would become a parliament under the changes, should be the ones making domestic laws, rather than the UK.

“We all battled through the political campaigns to make… decisions for our people,” he said. “And again, we would be real fools and ought to be tarred and feathered if we allow this opportunity to pass,” he said, as he revealed some of the significant changes that will increase Cayman’s autonomy and insulate it against the imposition of legislation from either the British parliament, government or governor.

McLaughlin said he had won the concession that the UK must consult Cabinet before making any legislation for Cayman or orders in council that impact domestic areas. He said he had manged to get the provision that allows the governor to disallow laws passed by the LA or to simply write his own removed from the constitution. He had also negotiated amendments that would make plain the areas where the UK should not be able to legislate for Cayman.

The premier raised the current controversial issue of the UK’s power to impose same-sex marriage on the Cayman Islands if it is not happy with how the LA moves to accommodate the current court direction, saying it was important to remove the governor’s power to write that legislation for them.

McLaughlin noted that, in addition to the changes limiting Britain’s ability to intervene in domestic policy, it has accepted the request to change the name of the Legislative Assembly to “Parliament” and to add another minister to the Cabinet, bringing the government front bench to eight members.

This means that Cabinet members will comprise a larger proportion of MLAs, tipping the balance dangerously close to Cabinet making up half the LA, leaving other members less able to oust a rogue government front bench, which could prove the stumbling block to steering the changes through.

As he pressed home his argument that the package of constitutional reform was a tough battle to win and that the changes would advance Cayman’s interests, he urged the members on both sides to get behind them and invited them to include their thoughts about the changes in their upcoming debates on Wednesday afternoon on the budget.

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Category: Laws, Politics

Comments (46)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Fix the damn dump.

  2. MI6 in paradise says:

    At the request of the Cayman Islands Government the UK are clearing the path for more self governance and inevitable independence. The UK do not want to be bothered with the contingent liabilities of a country with an annual 1 Billion dollar operating budget for a population of 60k. They see the writing on the wall and will take the financial services business from Cayman and centralize it in the City of London or other more favorable crown dependent territories.

    The reality is this has been Alden McLaughlin’s personal agenda from the outset. He see’s himself becoming Cayman’s first Prime Minister and taking all the steps necessary to make it happen. That includes promoting his preferred choice Joey Hew to be the next leader of the ppm. Hew is easy to control and unqualified for the position but because of family, lions and lodge connections is considered easy to work with or control.

    There are no coincidences in politics, Premier McLaughlin is a shrewd operator look at the expedient marriage of convenience with McKeeva Bush in 2017. He has always been driven by ego and self interests that is centered on collecting titles and consolidating power.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Genuinely shocked at this. Costa Rica refuses to have an army because it considers itself not sufficiently mature to use it properly. I’d say CI Gov is far less mature than CR (who also recognise their tourism is dependent on preserving their environment) and so more power is a terrible, terrible idea.

    • Anonymous says:

      Genuinely shocked at your comment. What’s “terrible, terrible” is that you haven’t read the provisions of what’s been agreed so you don’t even know what you’re objecting to.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Another step toward independence, isolation, intolerance and final deconstruction .

    And why does a village with no more than 15000 adults need a parliament.?

    • Anonymous says:

      Delusion of grandeur.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why? That is why:
      18 political seats x average $10,000 per month salary = $180,000 per month (KYD2,160,000 per year).
      These politicians are getting a law firm partner’s salary with little knowledge of law or what proper policies to put in place to encourage economic stimulus. Each and every sitting member currently knows that their last chance at a salary that high is re-election.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are an idiot. Partner’s in law firms make WAY more than $10,000 a month, more like $100,000 a month. Quite frankly when I look at what the job of an MLA is, and I consider the complexities of doing that job in a small jurisdiction where everyone knows you, knows how to get in touch with you and feels that your job is to address every one of their issues regardless of what those issues are…. $10,000 a month is quite reasonable.

    • Anonymous says:

      To refresh your memory and answer why. Basically you have to do very little, for everything there is a consultant and be overcompensated

      Premier justifies extra cash for councillors

      Miller calls for transparency in MLA Pay

    • Anonymous says:

      ” 15000 adults need a parliament” good (and often overlooked) observation. I hope it hits international media.

      • Anonymous says:

        Only 15K?who can run for office. The rest of those on the rolls are second class citizens. Only commonwealth country with this system. The UK FCO should be ashamed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you suggesting the other 55,000 are children? Because I failed to notice that.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not a village, it’s an autonomous territory. Whether you are from Canada or the UK or elsewhere you will find small communities exercising high degrees of self government as part of sophisticated legal jurisdictions requiring all the proper apparatus. Perhaps have a look at the salaries of the councillors serving your local area of birth and let us know how they operate.

      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly. I am so sick of these people that want to talk down about Cayman but never ever ever want to go live where they say life is so much better!!

      • Anonymous says:

        The Cayman Islands, as of 4/11/2016:

        ……… the governor… Helen Kilpatrick’s salary is based on a 20% premium of whatever the deputy governor might earn, so the governor’s annual pay ranges from $199,714 to $220,435.

        …. the speaker, premier, deputy premier, and other cabinet ministers…a range per year of $158,400 to $179,196.

        ……. the leader of the opposition, deputy speaker and other MLAs….. yearly salaries range from $109,932 to $130,668.

        COMPARE TO :

        ALASKA, Total population 737,438 (2018), Land area (sq mi) 570,641

        Governor of Alaska: $145,000 USD

        salary $50,400/year, per diem $275/day. Tied to the
        federal rate.
        The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are each entitled to an additional $500 a year during tenure of office.
        Legislators receive an annual allowance for postage, stationery, stenographic services and other expenses. Senators receive up to $20,000 and Representatives receive up to $16,000. The allowance is administered under an accountable plan, which means all invoices and receipts are turned into the Legislative Affairs Agency for expenditure or reimbursement, respectively.

        State executive salaries:
        Lieutenant Governor of Alaska: $50,400/year
        Alaska Commissioner of Education: Compensation: $141,156 (2016)

        Judicial salaries:
        Chief Justice: $205,776

        Comparison of state legislative salaries.

        • Anonymous says:

          I won’t argue that top officials here aren’t well paid. I just don’t see a problem with it, except that plain MLAs should make less so people don’t run just for the salary anymore. What I am really saying is that no matter how small Cayman is physically or how many people it has, it is an island jurisdiction, a representative democracy with the constitution of a British overseas territory, and needs a proper governance structure.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This kind of person should not be leading the country. Major character flaw.

    Opposition exposes premier’s ‘hypocrisy’

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Honorable Premier, now please get it set that you can be the Premier for 12 more years as you have done so many great things for the Cayman Islands!

  7. Anonymous says:

    “Would be fools”? Everything done by Government leadership in the past has proved without a doubt that you have been, are, and will always be fools. Fools do not take gifts from horses or anyone else. They just keep doing the same thing over and over again until failure.

  8. Jotnar says:

    Whilst Governor Roper is effectual as a wet paper bag, at least under the current system there is the option for him to step in and impose laws or revoke nonsense. With these changes we would be reliant on our MLAs to be honest and do the right thing. The track record right now is not looking hopeful. Make this change and kiss goodbye to any introduction of civil marriage or implementation of the SIPL, or anything else that the ruling party of the day feels politically important or in their or their supporters economic interest. UK will only approve it however if it’s “not considered controversial “. So let’s save ourselves and make it pretty clear it is controversial! I am writing to Lord Ahmad – suggest everyone else of like mind does so as well.

    • can't trust local politicians says:

      Agree completely. This bunch of Cayman politicians can NOT be trusted. Better that the control remain in the UK.

  9. Kurt Christian says:

    Vote No

  10. Anonymous says:

    The UK sees that Alden has an undemocratic dictatorial mindset.

    All constitutional changes must be done section by section in a referendum.

    People do not be fooled again.

    The main aim is to consolidate governance power and reduce people power.

    How could that ever be good for Caymanians?

  11. Silent majority says:

    Here is our position:-
    1. Agree to it but DEFER the additional one (1)extra Cabinet seat coming into force till another time;
    2. Goverment to commit to the drafting up and passage of the civil union law by January 2020;
    3. Increase House make up by one (1)additional seat for #1 to be acceptable.

    • Anonymous says:

      They won’t increase the seats in the house because they are currently allocated by population with a review done every 5 years to determine if more seats are needed

      There is a formula for the number of seats as well

      The Electoral Boundary commission meets again to issue their report next year prior to the 2021 elections
      It is unlikely any seats will be added

      We do need more representatives than 19 that is clear, but they would have to make smaller constituencies which would mean completely redrawing district lines
      I think think the number of voters per constituency should be averaged out to 1000 people which would make 21 constituencies an increase of 3 seats providing a nice number for the house
      1 Speaker leaves 20 MPs meaning any government would need 12 to have a majority (or at a minimum 11 but any government formed with 11 MLAs would rely on the speaker casting his tie breaking vote on any contentious legislation ) to form a government

  12. Anonymous says:

    CNS the government website is down (as usual) is there any source for the draft order?

    CNS: Sorry, we don’t have it yet. We’ll put it in the Library as soon as we do.

    • Anonymous says:

      So is dvdl, spend a million dollars on a new plate system but not a single drivers license can be printed.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Given the Constitution can be amended at will by the UK through legislation, the consultation concession would mean nothing if the UK considered that immediate legislation over territories was in the national interest.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Of course the governments main website is down as usual so no one can read the draft order

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hilarious seeing the Premier celebrate the removal of the Governor’s veto power
    He said that when the house passes a law as long as it is constitutional it should be law

    Yet he has delayed the implementation of the standards in public life law that was passed by the house nearing 5 years ago and refuses to put it into force

    So when the Premier doesn’t want a law that was passed by the LA to be implemented its a-okay

    But if the governor disallows legislation that has been passed it would be a huge controversy

    We can ignore legislation we ourselves have passed but no one else can

  16. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand why some act like if you’re atheist and/or homosexual in this country you’re a lesser Caymanian – or should move away from here to preserve the Christian culture. Alden doesn’t want the UK to override the hypocritical lobbying of the church.

    Turtle meat is a huge part of Caymanian culture, yet I don’t eat meat. What’s the difference? All are about personal lifestyles.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because in their mind Cayman is a theocracy with an at times inconvenience democratic shell

      They claim that the christian heritage or christian beliefs of the majority mean that they have a right to enforce those rules on everyone (keeping in mind these people would be the first ones to decry countries that actually have established state religions such as muslim majority countries)

      Of course if you challenge the beliefs of the people who pretend that the bible is the law of the land here on issues like alcohol, divorce, tattoos, Batabano etc you quickly realize it is just selective usage of christianity to argue against things they otherwise dislike

      • Anonymous says:

        CIG needs to enforce data protection laws. Why is electoral registration personal data on a website for all to see? Read the data protection law…there is no carve out for this.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Show us the new draft.

    Also get ready everyone for our jumped-up politicians to become even self-important as they will become MPs if the LA becomes Parliament.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Are they joking? Caymanians do not agree to this unless the civil unions law is passed first. Btw I am not even Caymanian and I can see what a power grab this is.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Given you have proved incapable of following our own Constitution, and we face the embarrassment of the Court of Appeal actually having to suggest that the UK may have to legislate for us, my vote is firmly against you having any more power. Our systems of checks and balances are simply inadequate to avoid abuse. Your gift horse is about to bite you.

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