Roper: Use of power was rare exception

| 08/12/2020 | 31 Comments
Cayman News Service
Governor Martyn Roper addresses Parliament

(CNS): Governor Martyn Roper said the recent use of his direct powers to pass the Civil Partnership Law was “exceptional and rare” and not a sign the UK was about to get more involved with local affairs. Delivering an innocuous throne speech on Friday, ahead of a new parliament that will be prorogued before the end of March, Roper said the retention of section 81 should not detract from the other modernising constitutional changes.

The United Kingdom had initially agreed to remove section 81, which was the most significant change that the cross-party negotiating team, led by Premier Alden McLaughlin, had achieved during the recent constitution modernization talks. But the UK reversed its decision after Roper used this section after the Legislative Assembly (as it was still called) rejected the government’s proposed Domestic Partnership Law.

Two government ministers and one backbench member joined the official opposition to defeat the bill, which was aimed at addressing discrimination against LGBT couples.

In the throne speech Roper made no direct reference to the intolerance, hate speech and general controversy the issue had exposed but appealed for everyone to treat all in the community with courtesy, dignity and respect, and to demonstrate CaymanKind at all times.

He said the use of section 81 to pass that law reflected the specific circumstances that not having the law in place created for the UK’s international legal obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

“It is incorrect, as some have suggested, to see its use as implying more activism on the part of the UK,” he added. “The negotiating team and I had all hoped that as part of these changes S81 of the Constitution, setting out the reserved power of the governor, could fall away.” But because of the need to use the power, he said, the UK government had decided to retain that section for the time being.

“Its use was exceptional and rare, reflecting the specific circumstances that arose from the UK’s international legal obligations under the European Convention on Human rights. It is incorrect, as some have suggested, to see its use as implying more activism on the part of the UK,” Roper added during the speech.

But he said that should not detract from the significant achievements embodied in the other amendments. He noted that as well as becoming only the third territory to have a parliament, Cayman is now the first with a provision requiring the UK to consult the premier and Cabinet before it passes any orders in council.

“This is now being made available to all overseas territories, who have Cayman to thank for that advance,” he said. The governor noted that the other main changes define Cayman’s autonomy in domestic affairs, and that work to establish a Police Service Commission has already started.

“Two years into my tenure here as governor my commitment to Cayman remains unswerving. I will continue to advance Cayman’s interests to the utmost of my capability, balancing those against the UK’s constitutional obligations,” he told the House of Parliament in the largely ceremonial speech.

He said his relationship with the premier and his ministers “is a strong partnership based on trust and openness, which I believe is to the benefit of these islands”.

Although Cayman “has never sought or needed money from the UK”, Britain has nevertheless provided some funding as well as technical support, the governor said.

“In the last four years alone Cayman has received over £6.3M in funding and technical support from the UK in areas such as criminal justice, law enforcement, prisons, governance and public sector reform, public health, child safeguarding, maritime and border security, air operations, environment and disaster management.”

Commending Cayman for its effect provision of public services without the advantages of a large country, he said the UK support was part of the “strong, mature and constructive partnership” between the two governments. “I will continue to work hard to nurture that relationship, which brings mutual benefits,” Roper said.  

“Cayman is a beacon of excellence amongst the British Overseas Territories and the wider region. It is one of, if not the best place in the Caribbean in which to live, work and invest,” the UK representative concluded in what is the post holder’s only regular annual appearance in the legislative body.

See full throne speech here.

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Category: Politics

Comments (31)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    “Hear ye, hear ye this is intended to be the one and only shipment of African labourers (slaves) transported to the West Indies to work on our fields (plantations).”

  2. Anonymous says:

    Has Cayman grumbled since the passing of the Domestic Partnership Bill? No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cayman has now brought itself into the 21st Century. Well done Cayman!!!!!

    Now, get on with more pressing issues that affect everyone, citizens, and residents of these beloved islands we call home.

    Move forward and continue to be the envy of all other nations in the Caribbean and the rest of the world.

  3. The Governor’s Lyrics says:

    Worse Governor ever and Government never seen so much destruction of Cayman’s society and rights and it’s environment. If he’s was doing as much he says doing for Cayman how come we don’t see it or feel it. We must blind or too dumb to see his Magic performance !

  4. Anonymous says:

    Can we drop this ‘CaymanKind’ wording, it has become real old, real quick, used for everything and doesn’t mean a thing.

    • Fun bring bun says:

      Exactly; it was a marketing slogan used by the DoT a decade ago. Some act like it’s embossed on our coat of arms.

    • Anonymous says:

      What else do you want to call things that normally happen in Cayman? Bushkind? CIGkind? fixthedumpkind? ignorantkind? I think maybe your finally getting tired of what Caymankind really means. Welcome to the club.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Oh spare us the platitudes. What the UK wants, the UK gets.
    Unfortunately, the political class is allowed to operate in the dreadful way it does aided and abetted by the UK and its representatives, so they will never want independence.
    The only losers here are Caymanians who once had a say in their islands.
    When you vote for turds, you have to put up with the smell.

  6. Anonymous says:


  7. Team Unity Representative Distress Signal says:

    Come on Guv. Just own it. No need to tiptoe around. The clear message must be that if Cayman’s politicians are threatening to go off the rails and mess up the place, Mama will step in as needed.

    That oversight, or the spectre of it, is what has made Cayman a success for the last half century.

    Of course, this assumes competence on the part of the UK government which cannot always be guaranteed. But, one hopes, the risk of an own goal is at least kept in check with parental oversight.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Trust me Mr. Governor, the people of the Cayman Islands don’t mind if you intervene, it’s your job to as we’re a BRITISH territory. At the end of the day the UK has the last word. We can’t be a territory but also expect full autonomy, can’t have it both ways.

  9. MI6 in Paradise says:

    Roper needs to intervene now because McKeeva, Alden and their motley crew are embarrassing Caymanians and the FCO with their antics and ignorance.

  10. Headsman says:

    This has been a hopefully rare and exceptionally bad year but Mr. Roper might be well advised to use his rare powers again to eliminate the abomination we have for a Speaker.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Governor doesn’t have that power. The Speaker has been elected by the (now) Parliament. Only they can fire him, and they really should have when they gave themselves the chance.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Should use it more often. Like now.

  12. Anonymous says:

    God Bless The Queen.

  13. BeaumontZodecloun says:

    We try to bring up our children with good values of fairness, honesty and self-sufficiency. We try to instill them with a sense of a good work ethic, personal responsibility and adherence to the laws of the land.

    When they — aware of the rules and the reasons for those rules — fail to follow them, we give them an opportunity to amend their behaviour(s), and failing that, we step in and enforce the rules. Above all, we should be teaching our children that all people are equal under the law.

    I think this simple analogy describes what has occurred in regard to the passing of the Civil Partnerships Law. Government had an opportunity to fulfill what was required of them, and failed to do so. I would rather the government had done this themselves.

  14. JTB says:

    Fine words Mr Roper, but Beacons of Excellence don’t have convicted misogynist thugs presiding over their legislatures.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The Governor totally had Alden’s support on DPL. Now interfering with a sitting confessed criminal MLA with who knows a lot of dirty secrets does NOT have Alden’s support.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman Islands also receives the preferential AA rating and risk terms, as backstopped by mother, on a substantial and widening portfolio of loans. This alone saves the Cayman Islands tens of millions a year in service payments. The Cayman Islands debt is insulated and thankfully not priced according to the antics of this government.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I hope all the people who think Cayman has never gotten a dime from the UK read this. 6.3 million….sterling pounds, more equal to value of CI dollars than US at 20% less, just to clarify.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Because of trying to be cayman kind they are being taken advantage of

  19. Anonymous says:

    Actions speak louder than words. That said, the governor did what needed to be done to ensure equality for all of the people of the Cayman Islands.

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