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Bermuda: Order In Council

Volume 400: debated on Monday 3 March 2003

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(Mr. Mike O'Brien)

On 27 February, an Order in Council was made to amend the Constitution of Bermuda. This amendment, which has received widespread political support in Bermuda, will change the system of elections to Bermuda's House of Assembly from 20 dual-seat constituencies to 36 single-seat constituencies, as recommended by the Bermuda Constituency Boundaries Commission in its 2002 report.The consultation process adopted in deciding upon this amendment has highlighted concerns in Bermuda that there should be a clear and generally acceptable procedure for considering future proposals for constitutional amendment. The Secretary of State wishes to ensure that, subject to the sovereign rights of Her Majesty, the process of considering such proposals is as transparent as possible, and that the citizens and political parties of Bermuda are consulted as widely as possible before changes are made. He has therefore asked the Governor to explore the issue locally to see whether interested parties in Bermuda can come forward with acceptable proposals for procedures to be followed in future, which can then be put to him for consideration. These proposals are to include the means by which the public is consulted over proposed constituency boundary changes when a future Constituency Boundaries Commission is undertaking its work. The Secretary of State understands that the Governor plans to canvass suggestions from individuals, political parties and organisations.