HC Deb 16 January 1964 vol 687 cc63-4W
Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the extension of internal self-government to the Bahamas on 7th January and on the plans for future constitutional development.

Mr. Sandys

At the general election in the Bahamas in 1962 both the major parties announced that they would seek an amendment of the Constitution to put more responsibility in the hands of the elected representatives of the people. When I visited the Bahamas in December of that year I met representatives of the Legislature and of the main political parties, who explained their desire for a wider measure of internal self-government. As a result a conference was convened in London in May 1963 at which the basis of the new constitution was worked out. The Conference Report was laid before Parliament in Command Paper 2048.

The new Constitution provides for a continuance of the bicameral legislature. The House of Assembly, which is the Lower House and is wholly elected, will be slightly enlarged to provide a greater number of representatives of New Providence Island. The Senate will have only delaying powers and will not, in general, be able to delay Money Bills for more than two months.

The Governor's Executive Council has been replaced by a Cabinet of Ministers who will be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Premier. The Premier himself will be appointed by the Governor as the person whom he thinks best able to command the confidence of the majority of the House of Assembly.

This Cabinet will be responsible for the administration of the Colony and Ministers will be assisted by Boards, similar to the old Public Boards but reconstituted to exercise only consultative and administrative functions. Each Minister will carry full responsibility for the matters dealt with by the Boards under his control and will be answerable for these matters to the Legislature.

The Governor will retain special responsibility for defence, external affairs, internal security and the control of the police.

The Public Service, including the Magistracy and staff of the Courts and the police (except the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner) will be under the control of Commissions, whose advice will be binding upon the Governor.

As this Constitution has only just been brought into force it is too early to forecast future developments.

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