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Review of the Falklands Constitution moves forward

Looking into the roles of the Governor and the Legislative Assembly are themes being discussed by the Select Committee on the Constitution.

The committee is made up of all eight Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs). This morning MLA Teslyn Barkman was absent due to commitments in the UK, and MLA Gavin Short acted as Chair in place of MLA Mark Pollard who attended via video link.

The Attorney General Simon Young gave a presentation of his preliminary report summing up the progress of the previous Select Committee formed in 2018. Mr Young also gave a non-exhaustive list of items recommended for discussion which are;

  • Fundamental rights and freedoms
  • System of government, including the role of Executive Council
  • The role of the Legislative Assembly
  • The role of Governor
  • The structure and role of the public service
  • The structure and content of the Constitution and the relation with local legislation
  • Audit scrutiny and accountability
  • Falkland Islands status
  • Qualifications of electors and qualification/ disqualifications for election
  • Roles and responsibilities in relation to defence and internal security (including the Police)

The committee agreed to accept evidence submitted by the public from 2019 during the previous Select Committee and to meet monthly on the same day as Legislative Assembly.

Regarding which subjects to broach first MLA Short asked Mr Young if they should consider starting with the easier topics to find their feet and leave the “more controversial topics” until last.

Mr Young’s advice was in order to get the work done save the easiest topics to the end and start “eating the elephants” now.

“The bigger and more important those topics are, if you’re going to make changes to Falkland Islands status for example… those are the sorts of changes that require some research and discussion and proposals for proper public consultation to help them understand what is intended.”

MLA Pollard said he was slightly reluctant to “come straight out of the gates with one of the major topics” given the short amount of time before the next meeting.

He agrees those topics need tackled sooner rather than later and said: “We need some serious consideration on what to start with. If we start with Falkland Islands status in a couple of weeks time we risk not being able to inform the discussion.”

MLA John Birmingham said: “There has to be public confidence in the way we are not only dealing with it but the outcomes as well.”

The next meeting will be on May 25 and members aim to spend until then putting together a programme of order and detail on how that will be transmitted to the public.

In the meantime written evidence is welcomed and Mr Young encouraged members of the public submitting evidence to indicate if they will speak at future meetings.

The dedicated webpage for the Constitutional Review can be found here.

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