Too adversarial

Mottley believes parliamentary system is in need of reform

A 21st century Barbados requires a governance structure that is capable of moving beyond slavish adherence to the adversarial Westminister model.

Leader of the Opposition, Mia Mottley, levelled this position yesterday while addressing a joint meeting of both houses in celebration of the 375th anniversary of parliament.

Expressing her distaste for repetitious debates, and sides often opposing for opposing’s sake, Mottley said: “Hunkering down behind the traditional battle lines of political tribalism cannot help this country. Bi-partisan co-operation, led by a new generation of patriots who put the national interest above all else, is what Barbados needs. Indeed, it is what Barbadians demand.

Leader of the Opposition, Mia Mottley.

“I have no doubt that they will be happy to see us seated on the same side today, and pray that this may portend well for the future of all Barbadians. Barbados is too small and its people too educated for us to waste even one good idea. The solutions to our problems do not reside exclusively in the minds of the 30 elected and 21 appointed members of these Chambers,” she added.

The Opposition Leader supports “genuine parliamentary reform” and the embrace of all talents and constructive contributions.

She warned her colleague parliamentarians that “it is no longer proper for us to call ourselves the people’s representatives, and then believe that we need only seek their views once every five years”.

“Equally, we must ensure that the will of the people must be capable of being exercised in between the current outer limits of the franchise, if necessary through the process of recall. And in the exercise of the will of the people, we must fight against the emerging paradox of the control of the few not by the exercise of a limited franchise as in previous times, but through the influence of capital today on the electoral process.” Mottley added that “we have come too far since 1951 to allow the benefits of universal adult sufferage to be diluted. There is a cost to democracy. We must be prepared as a people and as a Parliament to bear it.”

The St Michael North East MP suggested that “simple changes in the way we do business must now be undertaken to make our parliament more dynamic, more participatory and more responsive to our people.” A wider use of the Committee system and the holding of open hearings on important national issues to allow our people to have their say on the scope of policies and legislation must be undertaken and not simply spoken of on grand occasions such as this.

“Full publication of these hearings would enhance transparency and bolster trust between those who govern and those who are governed. The legislature must always be an effective check on the power of the Executive. Let us not forget that it is the premise of the separation of the powers on which our Constitution guarantees the rights of our people,” Mottley added.


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