Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Constitutional Commission - Plan of Action

Anguilla Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission, 2006
Plan of Action
1. Time:
ExCo has asked us to try to complete the review within six months. This is not an unreasonable timetable. We can accomplish it if we set tight deadlines. The main obstacle is funding. Once funding is available, we can proceed. Without funding, we can accomplish very little[1]. We will set a preliminary target for completion of four months, ie, by the end of May, recognizing that this target will probably not be met. Budgeting will cover the entire period of six months, ie, to end of July.
2. Executive Secretary:
Ms Maria Reid of the Treasury Department will be assigned to the Commission with effect from 1 February 2006. She will be supported by the Public Administration Department with equipment, stationary, and office space in the Old Magistrate’s Court building in order to provide assistance to the Commission.
3. Background papers:
The first task of the Executive secretary will be to find and prepare for us electronic and paper copies of:
(a) the Constitution of Anguilla 1982 and all amendments;
(b) the Constitution of Montserrat and all amendments;
(c) the Constitution of the British Virgin Islands and all amendments;
(d) the Constitution of the Turks and Caicos Islands and all amendments;
(e) the Constitution of the Cayman Islands and all amendments;
(f) the Constitution of Bermuda and all amendments;
(g) the Report of the Constitutional Committee for Anguilla;
(h) the Report of the Constitutional Commissioners for Montserrat;
(i) the Report of the Constitutional Commissioners for the BVI;
(j) the Report of the Constitutional Commissioners for Cayman;
(k) the Report of the Constitutional Commissioners for the TCI;
(l) the Report of the Constitutional Commissioners for Bermuda.
Members will read these background papers to prepare them to deal with the same issues as they will arise in discussions.
4. Budget:
We will target 22 February as the latest date that we can expect funding to meet our expenses to become available. If that date is met, we should be able to plan for our first Guest Speaker to arrive the following weekend. Conditional arrangements will have to be put in place before that date.
5. Guest Speakers:
Commencing on Saturday 4 March, we will invite one or more from each of the neighbouring British Overseas Territories (who have engaged in a similar process) to visit us at our expense, resources being available[2]. They will be invited to address the Anguillian public on the process they followed, the difficulties they overcame, the issues they dealt with, and the result so far. The speakers will be asked to place emphasis on what their countries thought were the most important issues for constitutional reform. These meetings will be the principal ones at which we will discuss the issues with the public. The Executive Secretary will be asked to cost the travel and accommodation of our guest speakers and immediately to prepare and submit the costs to the Chief Minister’s office for funding.
6. Drafting:
During the period of public meetings, we will begin to get an idea of what the issues are and what the public desires. We will begin preliminary drafting at once. At the end of the fifth meeting, we will complete drafting and discussing among ourselves our recommendations by 4 April. Most discussions on this topic will be conducted by email. Primary responsibility for initial drafting of recommendations is allocated: Rev Weeks: Powers of the Governor; Ms Petty-Barratt: Belonger Status; Mr Romney: House of Assembly, Public Accounts Committee; anti-corruption measures; Mr Reid: the Executive, Public Service; Mr Carty: Belonger Status; Ms Carty: ?; Mr Mitchell: Human Rights and the remainder.
7. Meeting Place:
Commencing immediately, Mr Reid will make a meeting place available to us. Initially, it will be at the Speaker’s Conference Room.
8. Meetings:
We will meet initially every Tuesday at 4:00pm. We will increase the number and frequency of meetings as need arises. As many communications as possible will be done by email (remembering that Hotmail does not facilitate exchange of long documents).
9. Group Forum:
Members will monitor the discussion on the Google Groups forum at: http://groups.google.com/group/Anguilla-Constitutional-Reform. Members will make their settings accept daily posts to the forum and will respond to posts with provocative responses designed to stimulate discussion and to bring out the real feelings of the Anguillian readership on the issues in question. Members who would like to have the power to monitor and regulate the content of the forum will be encouraged to do so.
10. Public Meetings:
We will divide our draft recommendations into areas, eg, Powers of the Governor, Election to the House of Assembly, etc. We will complete the first draft by 4 April. We will hold public meetings to discuss our draft recommendations on Saturday evenings commencing 8 April scattered over the island[3]. It is important for public meetings not to be limited to Anguilla. There are probably more Anguillians resident overseas than in Anguilla. It is necessary for them to be convinced that at least we made an effort to include their views. The budget will provide for up to two representatives of the Commissioners to hold public meetings in the principle places of overseas Anguillian residence, namely, St Thomas, St Maarten, London, New Jersey, and Toronto. These public discussions on our recommendations will be complete by 13 May. We will have been refining our recommendations based on the public input during the period of these meetings. We will complete our report by 23 May.
11. Final Report:
We will present our final Report to the public the following weekend on 27 May. We will make any necessary changes during the following week, and submit our Report to ExCo on 2 June. Our Report will not be secret, it will have been fully shared with the public before its delivery. The delivery of our Report will bring an end to our work.
12. Timetable:
Appointment - 21 January
Commission Meeting - 7 February
Submit Budget - 8 February
Commission Meeting - 14 February
Commission Meeting - 21 February
Receive Funds - 22 February
Commission Meeting - 28 February
First Guest: Public Meeting - 4 March
Commission Meeting - 7 March
Second Guest - 11 March
Commission Meeting - 14 March
Third Guest: Public Meeting - 18 March
Commission Meeting - 21 March
Commission Meeting - 28 March
Draft Recommendations - 4 April
Fourth Public Meeting - 8 April
Commission Meeting - 11 April
Easter Sunday - 16 April
Commission Meeting - 18 April
Fifth Public Meeting - 22 April
Commission Meeting - 25 April
Sixth Public Meeting - 29 April
Commission Meeting - 2 May
Seventh Public Meeting - 6 May
Commission Meeting - 9 May
Eighth Public Meeting - 13 May
Draft Report - 16 May
Commission Meeting - 23 May
Final Public Meeting - 27 May
Re-draft Report - 30 May
Deliver Report - 2 June

[1] See the draft budget attached. One of the principal expenses will be the cost of travel, accommodation and per diem for expert guest speakers from the other Overseas Territories whom we intend to invite to advise both us and the public on how the process worked in their territories and how they handled the various issues. Also important for the public and the government officials to learn is what they can expect from the British administrators with whom they will have to deal in negotiating the changes.
[2] The Executive Secretary will try to get 2 guest speakers for the first meeting on 4 March, and 3 for the second meeting on 18 March.
[3] We will decide at a later stage whether to discuss one area or our Report at a time or whether to open the entire draft report to public discussion. The advantage of opening it up is that we shall get the views of everyone on all the areas. The disadvantage is that if the same people attend all the meetings only one or two controversial issues that are the bees in the bonnets of the particular persons attending will get discussed over and over again, and other issues will risk being completely ignored. If we discuss one or two issues at each venue, eg, Powers of the Governor in Island Harbour, Election to the House of Assembly in Stoney Ground, etc, we may have a better chance of a thorough discussion of all the major issues. Persons who have a particular interest in one or two areas will know in advance which venue to attend.