Inniss challenges PM’s legal authority

Inniss challenges PM’s legal authority

Outspoken Government minister Donville Inniss is strongly advocating for change to the Westminster style of Government, while complaining that way too much power is currently vested in the Office of the Prime Minister and that the Senate is engaged mainly in “rubber stamping”.

Saying that he did not want to leave politics with any regrets, Inniss, who is the current Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development in the Freundel Stuart Cabinet, told the monthly meeting of his constituency branch in West Terrace, St James last night he felt duty-bound to identify “any deficiencies in our system now that I am where I am, [and]  . . . to help make some changes to them”.

In this regard, Inniss said there was need to make both Houses of Parliament – the Lower and Upper House – more relevant to the society.

“I am not talking about the electoral process. When you look at the Senate today, you ask yourself, ‘is it as meaningful in contemporary Barbados as it ought to be?’ And my view is, no, it is not. The structure of the Senate is that the party that wins the most seats puts the most people in the Senate, the Opposition puts two people and the Governor General puts some independents. And we all know how the Independents get there anyhow. So there really is not that strength in the independents per say. So there really must be a better mechanism based on the composition of the Senate that really allows it to provide checks and balance on us in the Lower House, instead of primarily rubber stamping,” he explained.

In further bemoaning the absence of checks and balances under the current political system, Inniss went a step further to highlight the powers of the Prime Minister in Westminster style democracies. It is an issue which he said he plans to write about soon.

However, Inniss made it clear that his desire to see this aspect of the constitution changed “must not be construed as any criticism of my dear friend and leader Freundel Stuart.

“He just happens to be Prime Minister at this point in time. But a Prime Minister in our system of Government is more powerful than the president of the USA,” he told the meeting.

Inniss also described as “a fallacy” the current separation of powers in terms of the legislative, executive and judicial arms of Government, arguing that “the executive arm of Government comes from the legislature and we who sit in the executive arm determine what goes in Parliament to be debated and we have the majority of seats anyhow.

“Under these circumstances there is not that level of openness and independence of thought in there. We have to ask ourselves if that is in our best interest in the 21st century,” Inniss added.

Taking a critical look at the appointment of members of the local judiciary, Inniss lamented the fact that under the 1974 constitutional amendments the Prime Minister has the power to appoint all members of the Judiciary after consulting the Leader of the Opposition.

“And I really do not know if that is the kind of transparency that you really ought to have in the 21st century. Under the system the Prime Minister simply has to say I propose to appoint someone to the bench and whatever he or she as the Opposition Leader thinks, the Prime Minister can do whatever he wants to do under the present law. But I do not know that under the system you get a “pretty” independent judiciary,” he said, even though he expressed the view that “we currently have some fine judges sitting on the bench based on the crop of attorneys from which they are drawn”.

13 Responses to Inniss challenges PM’s legal authority

  1. Andrea Jordan
    Andrea Jordan February 23, 2016 at 12:34 am

    These people, SMH!!!!

  2. Alex Alleyne February 23, 2016 at 12:51 am

    These are words of a “clever politician” who is trying to maneuver himself into the “head chair”. It was said that Branford Taitt was caught sitting in the “Skipper” chair and in the end paid a heavy price.
    Donville……..hint, hint.

  3. Cisco Wolf
    Cisco Wolf February 23, 2016 at 12:58 am

    This is the preview to laff-it-off?

  4. seagul February 23, 2016 at 6:35 am

    Politics of Barbados should take place in the framework of a multi-party -federal parliamentary democratic republic, whereby the Federal Council of B’dos is the head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government and the federal administration and is not concentrated in any one person. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the Federal Assembly of the island. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. For any change in the constitution, a referendum. Through referenda, citizens may challenge any law voted by federal parliament and through initiatives introduce amendments to the federal constitution, making us into a genuine democracy .

  5. Sunshine Sunny Shine February 23, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Donville Inniss, you are a laugh and half away from being look upon as a mere joker. You are trying so hard to project this caring, saintly or saviour depiction of yourself that all it does is raise suspicions of what your true intent and purpose really is. Your boss, the current Prime Minister of Barbados, have allowed you lot to run wild and talk foolishly. I guess it is the hall mark of your administration because he too has been talking foolishly and stupidly as well. What is wrong with you lot? Are you trying to win first prize for ignorance? Because you are certainly scoring high for the all-time title of worst government and leadership in the history of Barbados.

  6. Olutoye Walrond February 23, 2016 at 8:26 am

    On deeper reflection I am sure you would come to the conclusion that the Senate is a colossal waste of public money and time and should be abolished.

    This rubber-stamp chamber has only taken an independent view of a measure coming from the House ONCE in its more than half a century of existence. Imagine that.

  7. Victor Franklin February 23, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Donville. Agree with your submission, especially the rubber stamping of the Senate. As a matter of fact, these members are usually pay-back-time reps and sometimes carry more clout than the politicians who were successful at the polls. Also agree that independent members are not really independent since being appointed by the same elected government. Being a republic will just be a carbon copy of the same Westminster system this time with the President holding the most power. What is needed is a consensus involving government, opposition, private sector etc., We must also look at ministers who speak out of turn. I say no more.

    • Olutoye Walrond February 23, 2016 at 7:13 pm

      The republican constitution would have to be drafted, presumably with inputs from the citizens. There is no republican constitution that is packaged and waiting to be implemented. Hence no one can say it will be a carbon copy of Westminster.

  8. jrsmith February 23, 2016 at 10:10 am

    I always wanting to understand ,how a small island as Barbados need such a vast political infrastructure, which seems to be non productive, what the hell do they all do… Dear Mr, minister yes we need change taking it all back to Westminster, I think we would be a lot better off if we were govern by Westminster…

    Why our present priminister , show how brave he is and call a snap general election then he will know where his party stands…

  9. Alex Alleyne February 23, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    I can see clearly why our PM is well read .

  10. The Negrocrat February 24, 2016 at 6:43 am

    Some people don’t want to face reality, but tell me what contributions are made by the senate.

  11. Free Thinker February 24, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Referendum.. Independently elected governor of the island with power of Veto!.

  12. cj February 25, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Minister you have stimulated thought and. discussion on an issue which was raised before. You will be interpret as criticising the Gov. Go forth boldly and do your conscience will.


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