Road map for constitutional reform to be developed, MPs told
A road map for redrawing Bermuda’s constitution will be developed in consultation with the British Government, MPs were told.
Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, told the Budget debate for the Ministry of Legal Affairs on Friday that constitutional reform was “a matter of self-determination, autonomy and decolonisation”.
“The Government of Bermuda recognised that, as a nation, we are proud of our time-honoured parliamentary history, enjoy internal self-government and have 53 years of constitutional democracy,” she said.
But she noted that the United Nations special committee on decolonisation listed Bermuda among non self-governing territories.
She added: “Constitutional reform sits at the apex of society’s collective advancement, coalescing around a strong, healthful national identity.
“It is time for a new generation of Bermudians to have an active say in constitutional reform, and a constitutional reform process that is relevant to their needs and beyond.”
Ms Simmons said it was “input largely denied to past generations because of the historic exclusion and disparity in political representation and voting rights”.
She said that today’s Bermudians “will be emboldened to recast society and the constitution in the image of the Bermuda of today — and tomorrow”.
“The ministry will implement an advisory steering group to make recommendations to progress constitutional reform, to support the diplomatic steps necessary to negotiate with the UK a more fit-for-purpose constitutional model for Bermuda”.
The Attorney-General’s remarks before the Committee of Supply also touched on the creation of an office of the public guardian, which has been considered under both One Bermuda Alliance and Progressive Labour Party administrations.
Constitutional reform, along with a public guardian for seniors, children and the vulnerable, featured in the PLP’s 2021 Speech from the Throne.
Ms Simmons said on Friday that no funds had been budgeted for creating an office of the public guardian over 2022-23.
She said that the move would empower citizens to choose “someone trusted to make decisions in their best interest, should they lack mental capacity”.
She said that despite the lack of funding, a “framework will be produced” for an office of the public guardian.
Ms Simmons said that work on the initiative would likely entail “cross-ministry resource sharing”.