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Government to end conscription

The new Progressive Labour Party government is to end military conscription.

Governor John Rankin, who delivered the Throne Speech on behalf of government, said: “The Government will amend the Defence Act 1965 in consultation with the Governor to officially end conscription to the Royal Bermuda Regiment within this legislative session.”

The Royal Bermuda Regiment has not used conscription for two years and relied on volunteers instead after the previous One Bermuda Alliance government suspended mandatory call-ups.

But the OBA was criticised for not striking conscription off the books altogether.

The Progressive Labour Party said in the run-up to the 2012 election that it would “move away” from mandatory conscription if re-elected.

The OBA also pledged to eliminate conscription, but came under fire after it was revealed that the Defence Amendment Bill 2015 still allowed it “when voluntary enlistment leaves a shortfall in the required number of members”.

But Michael Dunkley, then Premier, said that the OBA had delivered on its commitment as it was sure the RBR would attract enough volunteers to fill its role.

The speech also said that the RBR will take over responsibility for inshore maritime patrolling from the Bermuda Police Service, with statutes being changed to allow soldiers to carry out “some law enforcement functions”.

Mr Rankin said: “These changes augment the special constable training and designation earned by soldiers and will return police officers currently performing this function to core policing duties.”