Premier able to set up Commissions of Inquiry
The Premier has been granted power to appoint a Commission of Inquiry following the passing of an amendment to legislation in the Senate.
The amendment to the Commission of Inquiry Act 1935 was brought about by PLP Shadow Minister of Immigration and External Affairs Walton Brown following the rejection of Governor George Fergusson this summer to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the issue of historical compulsory land expropriations in Bermuda.
While the Governor's rejection was a “precipitating factor” to Mr Brown's pursuit of an amendment, his motivation was representation of the electorate as the Governor is non-elected.
Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy mentioned in the Chamber that while he didn't agree on the premise for the introduction of the Bill, he acknowledged the passing of the Bill as, “an example of government and opposition working together on reasonable proposals.”
PLP Senator Diallo Rabain reminded the Chamber of the mass protests against the rejection of a Commission of Inquiry that saw about 2,500 protesters in favour of a commission.
“Mass protest at Government House 2,500 people supported the commission. He welcomed that there was a strengthened accountability mechanism where people through elected representatives have such power vested in them.
“As leader of the country, the Premier should have the ability to launch such inquiries as he sees fit,” he said. “This amendment will not take any right of the Governor but by granting the authority of the Premier as well can only strengthen our democracy.
With the passing of the amendment, the Premier now enjoys the privilege along with the Governor who previously had sole authorisation over such inquiries.
While the main amendment was passed, a minor amendment concerning the Governor being required to call out the police to attend commission hearings was made in the Senate and will be debated in the House of Assembly at a later date.