Sunday, 31 July 2011

Give us Parliamentary Reforms: Not Political Machismo

The GSD Government has published the text of a Motion dealing with parliamentary reforms, which is soon to be debated in Parliament. It is 16 years late, as far as the GSD are concerned but 24 years late for the GSLP. The GSLP was in power prior to the GSD for 8 years up till 1996 and thereafter for 16 years in Opposition. It has not made any suggestions on this subject throughout this time. At least reforms are now on the parliamentary calendar. The Motion goes far but not far enough.

Not far enough because it does not include electoral reforms; without electoral reform the fundamental ingredients and make up of Parliament do not change. This omission undermines and grossly weakens the effect of the proposed reforms. Electoral reform, such as would better allow  for independents and for more diversity in Parliament, are essential, if the reforms are to have the makings of revolutionising politics in Gibraltar. Appropriate electoral reforms would make membership of Parliament more inclusive and politics less divisive.

Without going into the details of the proposals contained in the GSD Government motion, parliamentary and electoral reforms are presently one of the most important items on the political agenda. They are as important as constitutional reform was in 2006. Gibraltar had one bite at constitutional reform. The reform of the Constitution fell short of what should have been achieved. I do not mean on the self determination front. I refer to the subject of electoral and parliamentary reform, which was left to Parliament, hence where we are today. We are now being given a first opportunity to gain from parliamentary reforms. It is important to get the reforms right, because, although it is within the power of our Parliament to revisit reforms of this nature, once they have been debated and enacted, politicians are unlikely to revisit them for a long while afterwards.

Let us, the electorate push for as much as we deserve. As many as possible should join in the public consultation that will commence, if the motion is passed. The fear, however, is that what is being played out by the GSD and the GSLP/Libs is a typically high-level political ping pong game. A game that is intended to create an illusion of a sincere quest for reform but will result, once again, in cheap party political points being scored by both Government and Opposition to the detriment of democracy. Active participation in the consultation process will exemplify the interest that there is in this issue. Complacency and apathy will play into the hands of politicians.

Undoubtedly the GSLP/Libs are right to complain and have complained that the GSD have dropped its proposals for reforms on them very belatedly. That the intention was to have had these debated in and formulated by a Select Committee that has not met in 2 years. That the GSD Government now, at the last minute, before the forthcoming election, wants to change the goal posts and debate the reforms in a Committee of the whole of Parliament. That it is belatedly in a big rush to reform Parliament before the forthcoming election. That the next Parliament should not be bound by reforms passed by the GSD Government at such a late stage in the current Parliament.

This last criticism is shorthand for saying that, if the GSD Government has governed without the proposed checks and balances, why change now, when the GSLP/Libs believe it has a good chance of forming the next government. If there are reforms now, a GSLP/Libs Government will have imposed upon it restrictions not suffered by the GSD. Thus it will not have the same freedom that the GSD have enjoyed whilst in government. The use of this argument is to miss the point. Politicians are the servants of the people, so, within certain limits to allow for the necessity to govern, checks and balances are a right that voters in a democracy should enjoy. It is not a debate about how politicans can retain power relative to each other. The measure is an objective measure of what delivers greater democracy whilst ensuring that there is a Government that can function.

Fabian Picardo may be right when he says to the CM:

As you will be aware, I have said that I believe the issue relates to the style of Government adopted by you and relates in particular to what is at least the perception that citizens and organisations are not free to associate with members of political parties other than the GSD and that this affects political freedom.

But ... so what? This is not any reason not to undertake the reform of the electoral and parliamentary systems. The GSLP/Libs have publicly stated that Parliament needs to be reformed. Further that it needs to be opened up to ensure the quality of democracy and to make Parliament more accountable. The PDP, to its credit, was saying these things sometime ago. The GSD, as the governing party, has had the duty, responsibility and power to do something about reforming Parliament for 16 years. It promised that it would in its manifesto. It has been making pronouncements without action for years; now, finally, the GSD Government has nailed its flag to the mast. It is time to take advantage of this and of cross-party consensus for the benefit of people and democracy. It is time to put aside the selfish aspirations of politicians and their self-centred desire to retain power and an easy life to the detriment of democracy.

The reality is that voters, who have the ultimate say in a democracy at an election, have been clamouring for reforms for years. It has been a subject of discussion at bars, clubs and reunions for a long time. Politicians have paid lip service to the desire and requests of people for democratic reforms. Promises have abounded from all politicians, even the GSD, but with no action ensuing. It seems that politicians consider reforms to be an intrusion into their cosy and exclusive club of 17 elected MPs. They have avoided reforms like the plague as a consequence.

These elected politicians argue, scream and shout at and, occasionally, insult each other in Parliament (as and when the CM decides he needs a meeting). Rarely do the public (including me) hear much of what goes on in Parliament or bother to understand what is being discussed or are interested in doing so. On the whole Parliament is an irrelevance to most. This is wrong. It needs to be changed if democracy is to evolve and develop positively. Debate in Parliament has become just a game played in isolation by those few politician who sincerely believe in politics and people, rather than their own self importance, and the majority of politicians, who are in it for a variety of non-altruistic reasons. The young should be aspiring to participate in politics and join the race for a seat in Parliament. There is no such sufficiently widespread enthusiasm. This interest needs to be engendered but will not be whilst exclusion is present, due partly to the system and partly to unstructured and undemocratically run parties remaining in power.

We are in danger of the same happening all over again if the GSLP/Libs decides, as it seems it has, to dance to a tune being conducted by Peter Caruana. The tune seems to be, get the GSLP/Libs to object to reforms, the GSD Government will be seen to have tried and so done right but will have succeeded in not reforming the system. This failure suits all politicians fine and has the advantage for the GSD that it will leave the GSLP/Libs with political egg on its face.

The GSLP/Libs may be right in everything it says, as explained above, but this is not what this issue is about. The issue is more substantial than inter party rivalry and bitching. It is about people and democracy. The time has come for the GSLP/Libs to stand up and be counted. It is time for it to tell the electorate what its vision is on parliamentary and electoral reform. It must make an effort to win votes on this issue by showing its democratic credentials; it needs to use this debate to recover some of the votes lost when, pre-1996, it formed the administration. At that time it was seen, as a Government, to be too detached from voters and to be out of control.

The GSLP/Libs should feel free to make its points about how the GSD and the CM have behaved and failed on parliamentary reforms for 16 years (remembering that it also did nothing as an Opposition during this period to promote reforms and effected none between 1988 and 1996). It should not criticise, however,  to the exclusion of making and vocalising the substantive arguments. Some of the substantive arguments are, what reforms do the GSLP/Libs propose? Does it feel that what the GSD proposals are good or good enough? If not, it should state the reasons why not. Does it feel that the GSD reforms go far enough? I think not, certainly not on electoral reforms. What do the GSLP/Libs think? If it thinks not, in what areas are they deficient?

The GSLP/libs should state its case and policies on this issue clearly. It has said already that it supports electoral and parliamentary reforms. It can have no good reason for not telling the electorate what these should be. If the GSD implement any GSLP/Libs suggestions, so be it. It will be a success for the GSLP/Libs, not a failure. The GSLP/Libs should not portray failure, where there should be none. It should not engage, once again, in a game of political machismo about procedure to the exclusion of substance.

The GSLP/Libs will not win the forthcoming or any election simply because of the unpopularity of the CM, as perceived by it and many of its supporters. He is very popular with many. Elections do not work like that. Incumbent governments may lose elections but for a government to lose the election, people who are not in power must positively win the election. Opposition parties have to grab the initiative on policies to be seen as a government in waitng. The GSLP/Libs need to grow up and play real politics on substantive and not procedural issues. It should not continue partaking in playground politics. The voters do not care about petty squabbles amongst politicians. If what it is about is petty squabbles, then show the GSD up for taking politics to that place. Do not be pushed by the GSD into being seen as the persons acting in a petty fashion. The GSLP/Libs participates in and carries on these squabbles at its own peril.

The GSD would love to be able to blame the GSLP/Libs for obstructing and preventing the GSD from reforming Parliament. It could even be part of the GSD's game play. The GSD seems to strategise and play thesegame beautifully to the detriment of opposing politicians. The GSLP/Libs do democracy no favours by playing at politics the way it does. In Gibraltar's current parliamentary system, which lacks checks and balances, a strong and credible Opposition, which exudes the probability of it succeeding at every next election, is presently the primary safeguard in the democratic process.

The GSLP/Libs owe it to democracy to join the fray fully and positively and aim to win and be seen, convincingly, to be aiming to win. The PDP, who have the least chance of success, do it, why doesn't the GSLP/Libs? It is the party in waiting to form Government. There it will remain, waiting on the Opposition benches forever, if it does not improve its image and take up the initiative. Gibraltar and its democratic institutions and systems, albeit deficient, deserve better from the GSLP/Libs, precisely because of the system's inbuilt deficiencies.


  1. Robert

    I have read the text of the Motion as published in the press and the PDP's response. I have not, as yet, seen any response from the GSLP/Libs. Is there one?

  2. Anonymous at 11:47

    Only this reaction to the original publication of the Motion:

  3. Paco says- Morning Robert.

    I am concerned that this is going to be just another box-ticking exercise before the next General Election. If the current administration were serious about electoral reform, then why aren't the new proposed back-benchers going to be given the right to vote in Parliament? Who cares about "cutting their teeth"? Give them the power to do some good! Give them a vote, a genuine say!

    An increase in question times, committees and the numbers of MPs is potentially all to the good. But it is all merely window dressing if the Government of the day continues to be able to do whatever it likes with no risk of its policies ever being outvoted in Parliament.

  4. Paco

    I agree that the reforms have to be more robust. I do not believe that extra meetings, more question times and the proposed Standing Committee are necessarily window dressing. It would be window dressing if the reforms do not allow for independents and minority party representation in Parliament. It is this fundamental omission that makes the reforms toothless and simply a sop to dampen down debate and public opinion.

    Perhaps If I had help a public meeting to discuss and show solidarity could be an idea. It may be time to call a meeting of the "NO CAMPAIGN" Committee ... It did change the mind of most GSLP/Lib voters :)

  5. RV@11:47

    Thanks Robert.

    That is, indeed, a very bland statement on what is, after all, a very significant step towards parliamentary democracy.

    Whether you think it goes far enough or it does not is another matter.

  6. Anonymous at 12:03

    You refer to Fabian Picardo's reply to the CM. It is bland and, as I say in my blog above, it certainly does not go far enough. In fact it does not put the GSLP/Libs even on the starting line of the debate ... so much for a government in waiting...

  7. Anon@11:50

    I do not think that backbenchers sitting in Parliament after having been elected can be deprived from voting on any issue placed before Parliament.

  8. RV@11:59


    Are you sceptical about the effect of the following:-

    "As regards public consultation, the motion seeks that political parties not represented in the House, Non Governmental Organisations and members of the general public be invited to write to the Committee through the Clerk of the House, with any other Parliamentary Reform suggestions that they would like considered by the Committee".

  9. Anonymous at 12:24

    No, not skeptical, as properly utilised by the public in an organised lobbying campaign it could be used to greta effect. The "NO CAMPAIGN" was very effective ... it could be again ...

  10. Paco says in response to Anon 12.12-

    Absolutely, they should of course have a full vote... but then the impression that I got from the press release was that unpaid backbenchers would be allowed into Parliament to "cut their teeth" only, i.e., to get a feel for the place by participating in debates but without an actual vote. It seems a bit pointless if this is in fact the case.

    Robert, perhaps you should look into reconvening that committee... with some new friends no doubt. The main reason that the present administration has had to publically contemplate some type of reform is because of the waves your blog has made in public life over the last two years. Therefore the public will take on board what you have to say on this matter, if you and others were to take to the airwaves to discuss this further.

  11. RV@12:33


    Don't get me wrong, nothing would make me happier than seeing the "masses" lobbying for the furtherance of democracy. I just feel that the necessary reaction on this issue is not going to happen unless strongly lead and organised.

  12. Paco@12:47 from Anon@12:12

    Like you, I am merely speculating, however, I feel that in a democracy when a potential "backbencher" is included in the ballot paper and gets the required number of votes in order to sit in Parliament he cannot be deprived of a vote in Parliament.

    I have interpreted the "cutting their teeth" comment as encouragement from an experienced parliamentarian as an aside.

  13. How can the electorate make its mind up about who is going to serve them better when none of the parties have even put forward a full set of candidates?

    We are limiting ourselves by the need to have ten candidates for each party - six should be enough and it might encourage individuals to form more parties and thus give the electorate a better choice from the present Caruana v Picardo because you daren’t vote for the PDP in case the GSD gets in through the back door again. That is why those who are fed up with the GSD will vote for the party that has the better opportunity to oust them and whether this turns out to be good or bad time will tell but like everything else nothing is clear cut and all is befuddled and messy.

    That a chief minister should serve only 8 years as is being suggested? Our population is too small for that. Serve 8 years, have a sabbatical of 4 and be given an opportunity to return if so wished. Who knows the next chief minister could be the best thing since sliced bread, so again why do things to limit ourselves?


  14. Robert

    What do you mean by 'allowing' for independents and minority party representation in Parliament?

  15. Anonymous at 22:49

    I put forward how this might be achieved. I quote from what I published in this blog and press releases:

    "Increase the size of Parliament from 17 to 25 MPs.

    Introduce a single transferable vote system, as advised is appropriate by the Electoral Reform Society, for the election of 17 of the 25 Members of Parliament (Members).

    The entire electorate of Gibraltar shall elect Members.

    Only Members shall be eligible to be Ministers and form part of the executive arm of government.

    Create 8 electoral districts, from each of which districts a simple majority shall elect 1 MP on a first past the post basis (District Members).

    Members and District Members (Members of Parliament) shall be of equal standing and have an equal vote in and enjoy all the privileges of Parliament.

    Members shall combine with District Members to form government with a simple majority, if possible; otherwise, the party or grouping having the support of the greatest number of Members of Parliament shall form government, albeit a minority government.

    District Members shall represent and be the Member of Parliament representative of the electorate of the district for which she/he was elected. Each District Member shall hold, as a minimum, once weekly ward clinics for at least 3 hours in the evening for the purpose of listening to and assisting on the issues affecting ward electors attending such clinics."

    "Allow" meaning encourage. I trust that this answers your query.

  16. Robert,

    Forgive me for digressing from your article, I wouldn't normally do it but I have heard something which has really intrigued me and I was hoping that perhaps you would be able to shed some light on this. At the same time however it is probably just a rumour with no substance behind it whatsoever. All the same, perhaps you can shed some light.

    I have heard that you have been asked by the Liberals to be a fourth candidate in their team. Despite the fact that they have only been apportioned with three representatives, they are planning on demanding a fourth and hoping that you would be that fourth candidate.

    In my opinion this would be a great move for both the GSLP/GLP alliance especially since the Libs seem to fare better in receiving votes than their GSLP counterparts (when you consider that all 3 Libs got in but only 5/7 GSLP candidates).

    I am a Liberal at heart and think we have got a poor deal, and would consider you to be a great asset in the coming election. I know of a great many people who would happily vote for you if you were a Liberal candidate.

    So what do you say Robert?

  17. To those who have already read this blog please note that I have made some editorial changes, which I hope improve the content. You may wish to read it again, as I believe the changes I have made are important.

  18. Anonymous at 00:08

    I have had no discussion with or approach from the Liberals.

  19. RV@23:07


    Pardon my ignorance but what is a "transferable vote system"?

  20. Anonymous at 19:48

    The essence of the single transferable vote system is that a voter lists all individual candidates in order of preference. So a voter will place a 1 next to his preferred candidate, a 2 against his next preference a 3 against the next etc. All first votes are then counted. Each individual candidate who receives more than 50% of the vote is elected. The 2nd vote of each of those is then counted and each of those who then get 50% of the votes is elected etc. etc.

    There are various variations on this theme but essentially that is how it works. It achieves two basic aims (a) encourages votes for individuals rather than parties but does not eliminate a party vote (b) it ensures that those individuals who have more support are elected into Parliament. I believe it is the ideal system for Gibraltar. It was a system that was used in Gibraltar prior to the 1968 Constitution. I do not know why it was abandoned after then but believe that Sir Joshua and the AACR had much to do with its abandonment. It was after this that the party system took a stronger hold in Gibraltar.

  21. Was STV not rejected by the UK recently? Do you know of a community with a comparative size to that of Gibraltar where STV and the reforms you propose work in practice?

  22. Anonymous at 22:31

    Yes it was rejected in the UK but there is no comparison. The UK has a constituency based system. Gibraltar does not.

    STV (in a modified format) is used in Australia and in state elections in Tasmania and Australian Capital territories.

    In the us it is used in 20 cities including Cleveland, Cincinnati and New York.

    Ireland uses a modified system of STV in its elections to the European Parliament. It is also used in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

    A modified system is used in Malta also.

    Importantly it was used in Gibraltar prior to the 1969 Constitution.

  23. Would a valid argument against the system you propose not be that it gives rise to added complication?

    If I have understood it well we would be faced with 2 categories of MPs and 2 voting systems, one of which would require the elector not simply to place an X by a name but also to express a preference choice by numbers.

    Many people already find the prospect of placing 10 Xs daunting from an alphabetical ordered choice of (potentially before the next election) more than 30 names. How long would we have to spend behind the curtain?

  24. Anonymous at 23:19

    I did not intend to turn this blog into a debate about the merits or demerits of the STV system. Ye its is slightly more complicated but not much more. No, not 2 categories of MPs unless you refer to my proposal for District MPs in which case yes and so?

    No not necessarily 2 systems one with a cross and one with numbers. It can be numbers only on the same ballot paper, one wold receive 2. No a voter does not have to vote for all 30 candidates just as many as he chooses in order of preference.

    It strikes me that you are opposed to the system so, fine, no problem It also strikes me that you underestimate the intelligence of the vast majority of the electorate. The 10 X's system is also deficient ... it delivers a lesser degree of democracy. It is a matter of choice.

    It is the responsibility of the administration to educate an electorate adequately to enable it to exercise its democratic right to vote.

  25. L.E.F. says,

    I too would urge the opposition to take the bull by the horns and prove that they are ready to be the mature,transparent and democratic alternative that Gibraltar is yearning for.

    Embrace the challenge with an eye on what is best for all us Llanitos and forget party posturing. The chance is there now to prove you have come of age.

    I also do not think that an enlargement of Parliament is a good idea. I would go with the argument that to form a government of 10 might be to demanding for such a small population.

    We just have to look at the Government we have today. We have some solid and highly talented Government ministers and just as many making up the numbers with little or no input.

    My proposal would be to leave the house at 17 members.

    Each voter would still have 10 votes but Government Ministers would revert to 8.

    That would mean that like today a government can form a majority with just 9, the difference being that only 8 can make a Government.Someone in the party line up who comes 1n at 9 or 10 would be another member of Parliament just like the opposition today.

    This would achieve the following.
    A reduction in the cost of our Parliament.

    Competition amongst party members in who will get the 80 thousand and who will get 30 thousand. Maybe even a willingness to question ones own party.

    The possibility for the electorate to have 2 extra votes for independents thus finally splitting the block vote.

    The possibility of a Government not having a majority in the house.

    Just my opinion. Any thoughts

  26. L.E.F.

    It could work but the electoral system would need to be tweaked to ensure wider representation.

    One problem is that the CM decides on how many Ministers there are and so who are in Government (meaning the Executive). It is difficult to see how the number of Ministers could effectively be restricted so that he can appoint only 8. Hence my suggestion to increase the number of MPs.

  27. L.E.F. says,

    I feel that a solid core of six maximum eight ministers should be part of the executive. The rest would be members of Parliament.

    Basically today we get the above at a higher cost with no responsibility,accountability or even opinions from those who just make up the numbers.

    I thought that the number of Government ministers required was set in law.

    If the GSD had won the last election with only 9 candidates instead of 10 they would have been forced to only have 9 Government Ministers thus making Government Minister No 10 of today surplus to requirements.

  28. RV,

    I don't like the idea of District MPs. I think I have raised this concern in a previous blog.

    However I'm warming up to the idea of an increased parliament.

    Also you have made no mention of cost at having an increased parliament in your proposals @ 23:07.

    I would imagine that a "larger" complement of Civil Servants to assist a larger contingent of MPs with far more meetings, would also be required!

    At a time when we are questioning spiralling costs of future salaries and pensions, I think it is also proper to address this "minor" issue.

  29. Disciple X

    Fine on your disagreement about District MPs. I understand the arguments against this proposal. There are alternatives mainly involving electoral reform about which I could be convinced.

    Increased numbers in Parliament is intended to cater for the democratic deficit that I have referred to in the past. There could be alternative valid suggestions but those who have the ideas need to vocalise them and make convincing arguments, which may make alternatives valid and acceptable.

    A "larger" Civil Service, avbsolutely not. What we need is a Civil Sevice as opposed to a "political secretariat". We have enough bodies but they need to be empowered and need to be made more aware of their respective functions. The firts lesson is that they CANNOT act without the authority of law. If any of them are asked by a Minister to do anything that is not authorised by LAW, they need to say "NO". This RARELY happens. It is an omission that carries with it legal repercussions that have never been invoked. Perhaps one day these should be invoked be someone. That would be fun but not for the person at the receiving end!

    I believe that, if Opposition members are paid what they are paid for doing what they do, there cannot be ANY valid argument for paying other MPs less. There may be a valid argument for paying ALL MPs less including Ministers. How about that?

  30. Robert

    There are many important issues on which the Opposition is vague/silent and many questions that its leader has yet to answer convincingly in order to establish his credibility.

    I think that you are being too ambitious when you say that the Opposition should state its case and policies on this issue clearly.

  31. So essentially you would get succesful people in parliament as back bench MPs who could tend to their businesses and afford to appear in parliament without a salary and the less succesful people would be in the front benches and ministers because they could n't make money any other way. There is a new saying "if you can, do it and if you can't join one of the parties and hope to make a living doing FA and poncing about as if you owned the place (or if you have a really awful track record become a "consultant" ;)".

  32. RV@16:55


    You state:

    "There may be a valid argument for paying ALL MPs less including Ministers. How about that?"

    A simple answer could be "we'll get what we pays for".

  33. RV,

    A "larger" Civil Service, absolutely not. .... but not for the person at the receiving end!

    Absolutely agree with you on that one!

    I believe that, if Opposition members are paid what they are paid for doing what they do, there cannot be ANY valid argument for paying other MPs less. There may be a valid argument for paying ALL MPs less including Ministers. How about that?


  34. Anonymous at 19:16

    My comment re the GSLP/Libs, whilst it appears in the context of electoral and parliamentary reform, was not intended as a criticism on that front alone. It was intended as a wider criticism of the GSLP/Libs. I agree with you entirely.

    Anonymous at 19:51

    You may be right ... I do not agree that backbenchers should be paid any less than members of the Opposition, who, in essence, are backbenchers.

    Anonymous at 20:02

    That is what we have already is it not :) except we do not actually get what we pay for!

  35. RV@21:48

    I agree with your response to Anon@20:02 to the extent that we are paying for an ineffective Opposition. It is simply hoping that it will be voted in by JB's loyal core voters and the sector that feels that we need a change because they are fed up with constant tax reductions and increasing prosperity. You know it can get boring after 16 years.

  36. Anonymous at 22:32

    ... don't be churlish ... and many Ministers!

  37. RV@22:36


    The many ineffective Ministers that you feel we are paying for form part of the team that have continuously reduced our taxes and increased our prosperity. Your opinion of the individuals involved is what I would call churlish which I understand to mean 'rude in a mean-spirited and surly way'.

  38. Robert

    Would it not be open to a party to adopt as an electoral commitment that of their 10 candidates, in the event of success, say about 7 would form part of the Executive? At the stroke of a pen Parliament would be served with 3 government back-benchers without the requirement for cross party support or indeed legislative reform.

  39. Anonymous at 23:13

    Yes but we would be in the hands of the whims of the CM ... so it would not be a safeguard.

  40. Is that really a supposition you can reasonably adopt? This is why not paying backbench MPs an annual salary may be of benefit. Surely somebody who is being paid a nominal amount and who could be attending his business or who has to otherwise use his free time from work is less likely to necessarily tow the line. He may want to but he is more likely to do so out of free choice rather than because his income depended on it.

  41. I am very interested in creating greater democracy and passionately believe that the quality of life of future generations depends on this.
    Can anyone please tell me how rushing into this now, at this late stage, has any chance of achieving meaningful reforms. Surely, negating by this action, a timely and well thought out public consultation process actually confirms the lack of real understanding for the need to change.
    It seems as though only those in the House can have a view on these things when in fact it is only the aspirations of the ordinary man in the street that matter.
    I can understand the PDP trying to make political capital but what right do they have to contribute more than the man on the street. They have never received a mandate nor (it would appear by the soundings)are they likely to.
    Was not the cross party Parliamentary Committee set up to ensure a public consultation process.
    Surely there should have been an invitation for people or groups to have made representations direct to this committee. Not only has this not been done, but it is now impossible given the timing of the next elections.
    In these circumstances, surely the only option for aspiring political parties that are serious in considering the public view is to present their proposals in their manifestos and let the public decide. That is what I believe we should be advocating, that parties define themselves clearly and lay themselves out to be judged by the people.
    I do not believe it is in the interests of this vital development that we seek to encourage a last minute rush. Even the CM admits regret for the low priority given to this. Let us not now procrastinate the error by desperate last minute attempts that effectively debar a meaningful public consultative process.
    My view is that anyone that seeks to do any different is guilty of the worse kind of political opportunism and are by these actions detracting from the very goals that they pretend to seek - reducing the essential process of democratic reform to a simple vote catching exercise. Cynical in the extreme.

  42. Anonymous at 09:46

    I agree with your arguments but the only party that needs to publicly announce its suggestions for reforms is the GSLP/Libs. I am calling on them to do this. The public consultation can then proceed in the knowledge of what all political parties are agreed on and what parts there is no agreement on.

  43. But it isn't what the parties agree between themselves that is important. Its what the people want.
    If the GSLP/Libs agree with the GSD a basis for reform the Gov will seek to enact to ensure they cannot be accused of failing on a manifesto commitment. Fine for the GSLP/Libs (adopt the high moral ground, lead by example etc etc) and the GSD (protection from the charge of not delivering on a manifesto promise)but what about the people's thoughts.
    For the purpose of this debate, whether this situation should be held against the GSD or not by the electorate is irrelevant but the fact remains that they would seek to protect themselves by rushing through their promise even if this has not been properly aired.
    That's the danger I believe is inherent in pushing for disclosure other than in the context of fresh manifesto commitments.
    The debate for democratic reform must be taken to the people, for the reasons explained I fear if we do not confine it to the next parliament, it will fall prey to selfish electoral posturing.

  44. Anonymous at 10:58

    I agree but it is difficult to take it to the people in a vacuum. It is easier if issues that are agreed by the parties are known by the people to be agreed. The people can thane comment on the deficiencies of those (if any), enlarge on the list of reforms and lobby for reforms of one party or another which they support.

  45. There is one minister in particular who has worked tirelessly over the last 16 years, to the point that he has had to abandoned the day to day running of his business and passed on the responsibilty to his family. They do not complain though as the business has boomed since his departure!

  46. Perhaps the No campaign group should meet to organize the public consultation and press the Government not to implement changes until this process is gone through and properly debated.

  47. Robert

    Parliamentary/Electoral reform should not be included in any party's manifesto for the electorate to vote on. If the voters are to either endorse or reject any proposals it would be a travesty to allow such a serious matter to be diluted by so many other issues.

    After thorough debate the different options should be put to the electorate in a referendum.

  48. Anonymous at 12:28

    Your opinion is one that I understand but surely the GSLP/Libs has to publicly state what its view is?

  49. Re : Anon 12:28

    The manifesto commitment could be to hold a Referendum. It is up to us now to pile on the pressure to avoid reforms introduced in a rush.

  50. Robert

    Can you tell me who the members of the original Select Committee which was set up to look at Parliamentary reform are?

  51. Anon@13:59

    There is something else that I should have said @12:28 and that is that I would not trust either party to fulfil a manifesto commitment of this nature expediently. It needs a more binding commitment.

  52. Would you believe it? From Today's Daily Telegraph: The chief constable of Cleveland Police and his deputy were arrested this morning and questioned by detectives over allegations of corruption.
    The investigation centres around business practices of the Cleveland Police Authority. Contracts awarded by the authority are being scrutinised.
    Another allegation is that th CC used “undue influence” to get a job for the daughter ofthe then chairman of the police authority, Mr. McLuckie.
    They have been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office, fraud by abuse of position and corruption.
    The investigation into the force began two months ago. Within days of its commencement Mr McLuckie resigned.
    Following his resignation it emerged that he was also CONSULTANT of a heating firm that won an £87,000 contract with Cleveland Police.
    Mr McLuckie says he took no part in the contract negotiations and denied any wrongdoing.
    Aren't we lucky that this sirt of thing has never happened in Gib?

  53. Interesting. No doubt the proponents of the argument of greater susceptibility to corruption in gibraltar will say that it could happen but we do not get to find out. This of course is fallacious. The point is that the UK police referred to are currently the subject of criminal investigations just as anybody in Gibraltar doing a similar thing could also potentially be subject to with or without a whistle blowers or FOI Act.

  54. Can anyone imagine any government/Police officials being fully investigated and hitting our headlines NO. WHY NOT?

    Wednesday 3 August 2011
    Log in Register

    Sponsored by
    Police pair suspended after arrests

    Published on Thursday 4 August 2011 01:16
    The Chief Constable of Cleveland and his deputy have been suspended from their posts after being arrested by detectives investigating allegations of fraud and corruption.
    Sean Price and his deputy Derek Bonnard were arrested and taken to a police station in North Yorkshire where they are being questioned by detectives.
    A woman, alleged to be a former member of staff at Cleveland Police Authority, was also arrested on suspicion of the same offences.
    The investigation, which is being led by officers from Warwickshire Police, began in May following allegations against present and former members of Cleveland Police Authority.
    A Warkwickshire police spokesman said searches were made of several premises following the arrests at around 6am.

    He said: "Police officers conducting a criminal investigation into a number of people with current or past associations with Cleveland Police Authority and the manner in which the authority may have conducted some of its business have this morning arrested three people on suspicion of misconduct in a public office, fraud by abuse of position and corrupt practice."
    A Cleveland Police Authority spokesman said: "The authority can confirm that two chief officers have been suspended from their posts with Cleveland Police while the investigations are being considered. It should be emphasised that suspension is a neutral act and it should not be inferred from the decision to suspend that the potential conduct matters have been proven in respect to the two chief officers concerned."
    Speaking in May, Mr Price said he was considering taking legal action after the IPCC announced it was investigating an allegation that he used "undue influence" to appoint a member of staff to his force.
    He denied the accusation about a junior member of staff in late 2008, which he regarded as malicious, and warned that those responsible for "initiating and spreading incorrect information" could be sued for defamation.

    The IPCC said the allegation came to light during a review by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary into the way some individuals within Cleveland Police Authority "may have conducted some of its business".

    equality law?


  56. Anon@01:25

    It was not so long ago that a Gibraltarian Police Inspector was tried and imprisoned. Let's not go any further on this one out of respect for the person involved and his family.

    It has and does happen here.

  57. Robert

    Taking an extract from what we agreed was a bland statement taken from the GSLP website which read:-

    "The Leader of the Opposition Fabian Picardo has told the Government that their proposals for Parliamentary reform should be immediately dealt with by the original Select Committee which was constituted for the purpose".

    Don't you think that it is forceful enough as to his preference?

    What is the composition of the Select Committee?