MPs to discuss fixed term elections and ethical governance
Fixed term elections, an independent electoral commission and ethical governance are among a raft of items due to be discussed today in a take note motion led by United Bermuda Party MP Kim Swan.
They feature in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Associations recommended benchmarks for democratic legislatures in the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region developed last summer.
The take note motion will kick off debate on the benchmarks, which were tabled in the form of a brochure last week.
Mr Swan told The Royal Gazette that Bermuda had already implemented some of the recommendations, including establishing a Register of Interests, open committee meetings and a question period.
But the report also highlights areas where Bermudas parliament must address to keep pace with sister jurisdictions who are more modern, and illuminates where Bermuda lags behind and needs modernising, Mr Swan said.
Term lengths for Members of the popular House shall reflect the need for accountability through regular and periodic legislative elections, the date of such elections should, as far as possible be fixed, the report states.
The CPA is also recommending that lawmakers expenses be reimbursed and that they should be paid enough in salary and benefits to make their parliamentary duties a top priority.
And it calls for an allowance to be paid to members who leave parliament so that departure from office does not leave a former Member in dire financial straits.
MPs should also get constituency offices funded by the state, it says.
We are one of the most sophisticated jurisdictions in the world, especially in financial services and reinsurance, yet comparably our Parliament lacks the autonomy, resources and manpower to adequately keep our Parliament in step with modern jurisdiction, Mr Swan said.
Also included is a recommendation that legislatures provide adequate facilities for the press and a media relations function.
We appreciate that the press endure long periods to cover Parliament and it is noteworthy that these benchmarks specifically mention the importance of adequate facilities to allow the media to do it, Mr Swan said.
Also on the agenda for discussion today is the Revenue Amendment Act 2011.