LA adjourned early, ethics debate set for Thursday

| 29/01/2014

(CNS): Government managed to get through only a limited amount of business Wednesday since the speaker was unable to attend the Legislative Assembly as a result of illness. Although Anthony Eden, the deputy speaker, was able to step in for the morning, a funeral appointment in his constituency prevented him from presiding over the afternoon session, leading to an adjournment before members began the much anticipated debate on the new Standards in Public Life Bill. That is now expected to be dealt with on Thursday. Three private members motions dealing with a minimum wage, the introduction of 'one man, one vote' and changes to the customs law will also now be pushed to another sitting.

Despite a packed order paper, government only managed to lay a few reports on the table, deal with just one parliamentary question and pass amendments to the police law and the criminal procedure code as a result of the early adjournment. Two government motions regarding a rezoning application and Cayman’s latest tax information exchange deals were also left unaddressed.

During the briefing debate on the police bill, following the explanation from Attorney General Samuel Bulgin that the law had to be amended to make it compatible with the Bill of Rights, the member for North Side raised concerns over the constant legislative changes to help the police without any results.

Ezzard Miller said he would support the change but he questioned what was happening, as every time he saw the news judges were throwing out cases because of incompetence somewhere along the line from the police or prosecutors. He said just about every law that could be amended had been to help combat crime but it was still increasing. Miller said legislators had to believe that what they were doing was helping. While he said he was prepared to vote for the change, government must look at what is happening in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and with the police to give people some assurance that it is not a case of incompetence driving all the legislative changes.

“Every time we are here we seem to be amending the law to help the police but my community has no police and the criminals are running wild,” he added.

Meanwhile, his colleague Arden McLean, the independent member for East End, also voiced concerns and queried how government could implement the Constitution and a year later pass a police law that was incompatible with it, as he pointed the finger at the Attorney General. He said many times he and other members of the LA have brought potential anomalies to the attention of the official member but as they were not lawyers their concerns were not listened to. But here they were again, having to amend laws because the ones that were supposed to know weren’t getting it right. McLean said it was the AG's responsibility to ensure the laws conform to the constitution.

Premier Alden McLaughlin spoke briefly on the issue and said the Constitution was working as expected and that there was no way that any government could expect not to find some circumstances where incompatibility would occur. He pointed out how old the US constitution is and yet the laws still face constant challenges in the courts there.

The AG also dismissed the comments from the independent members and said that jurisprudence was evolving and as such there would always be a need to amend laws to ensure constitutional compatibility.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    yaay, long weekend! oh wait…

  2. Anonymous says:

    All respect to the family of the person that passed away, but that is NOT a reason to stop the LA from functioning. 

    I assume mr. Eden's finds being seen at the funeral more important than a minimum wage.



  3. Anonymous says:

    Only being gently critical but the fact that a funeral in his constituency made it impossible for Mr Eden to be Speaker to carry out the whole country's business shows the limitations of this tiny jurisdiction. Yes, in our present set up, Mr Eden would have to go to that funeral, but it shows what a little village we really are and nothing Ezzard can say or do, or all the mighty Hero and Pioneer awards   will make it any different.