Review Senate appointments

Review Senate appointments

Bruce Golding recommends return to pre-Independence arrangement

Monday, December 07, 2020

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FORMER Prime Minister Bruce Golding says there is need for a review of the provisions regarding the appointment of senators and suggested a return to the pre-Independence arrangement which allowed for appointments to the then Legislative Council to be revoked by the same process by which they were made.

“It is of immense significance that, prior to Independence, the 1959 constitution expressly provided that the appointment of a member of the Legislative Council could be terminated on the advice of the person who had so nominated him. That provision was deliberately excluded from the 1962 Independence constitution,” Golding said in a column published in today’s edition the Jamaica Observer.

The former prime minister’s comments come in the wake of the dilemma created in the Upper House last Friday when Peter Bunting was unable to be sworn in as an Opposition member after it emerged that Norman Horne’s Senate nomination was still active.

Bunting, the former Member of Parliament for Manchester Central, was to be sworn in following an announcement last Wednesday by new People’s National Party (PNP) President Mark Golding that a recommendation would be made to Governor General Sir Patrick Allen to secure his appointment.

It was also announced that Bunting would assume the role of Leader of Opposition Business, following his defeat for a seat in the Lower House in the September 3 General Election.

But on Friday, Senate President Tom Tavares-Finson told the Observer that he could not proceed with the swearing-in process because there was no writ authorising the move.

“I was informed that he was to be sworn in today, but the writ that was expected from King’s House did not arrive. I subsequently realised that Mr Horne’s writ was still in Parliament. So that writ would have to be withdrawn and then a new one prepared for Mr Bunting,” Tavares-Finson explained.

Horne, in October, had said he would forgo being sworn in after he and seven other PNP members were recommended for the positions by then Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips.

At that time, Horne said in a statement that being sworn in would be “in great contradiction with my convictions”.

He said he would be resigning from the Senate on November 6, 2020, the day before the PNP elected its new president, to allow the new Opposition leader to appoint senators of his choice.

“I will, therefore, be communicating to the governor general and the leader of the Opposition my desire not to be sworn in at this time,” he said then.

However, the resignation was reportedly not submitted.

Former Prime Minister Golding, in his column, argues that a person who has been appointed to the Senate, having received his instrument of appointment from the governor general but who subsequently declines to take up the seat, should be expected to submit his resignation forthwith to the head of State.

“He ought not to be able to withhold that resignation until particular demands which have nothing to do with the functions or business of the Senate are met. Nor should he be allowed to take up his seat and behave like a rogue. That is not how the constitution was intended to work,” Golding said.


— Read Golding’s full submission on Page 15

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