Constitutional Reform Commission Report.
THE position of Deputy Prime Minister is to be given new prominence in the proposed new constitution for St Lucia.
This is one of the recommendations of the Constitutional Reform Commission which will continue serializing today at Chapter 6:
Deputy Prime Minister
The Commission received and considered many submissions calling for the direct election of the Prime Minister and a Deputy Prime Minister. The Commission did not support the idea of a directly elected Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister for the reasons canvassed above. While the Commission therefore rejected the submission, nonetheless in considering the new arrangements for the political executive in Saint Lucia, the Commission felt that it was necessary to give constitutional effect to the office of a deputy to the Prime Minister.
During its deliberations, the Commission concluded that in the interest of succession and decisive action, it would be preferable that a Parliamentarian be appointed to the post of Deputy Prime Minister. Accordingly, it was argued, that in the absence of the Prime Minister from the State, or under circumstances where the Prime Minister was unable to perform the functions of the chief executive as a result of illness, the Deputy Prime Minister would automatically fulfil the functions of the Prime Minister. Further, the Commission held the view that Section 63 (2) and (3) of the current Constitution which speaks to the appointment of a temporary Minister to replace a Minister who is unable to perform his ministerial responsibilities, should be amended to remove the discretion of the Governor General (now President) in respect of the position of Prime Minister. Essentially therefore, under the new arrangement where the Minister in question under Section 63 (2) is the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister will automatically assume the duties of the Prime Minister. The Deputy Prime Minister shall be the one empowered under the Constitution to advise the President.
In order to facilitate the Deputy Prime Minister in the discharge of his functions when deputising for the Prime Minister, he would have to become a member of Cabinet upon his appointment but such appointment would not make him a Minister nor would such appointment require him to resign as a Member of Parliament. As a result of this, there would be two (2) elected members in the Cabinet, but the only time the Deputy Prime Minister would exercise Executive functions is when he is deputising for the Prime Minister.
With respect to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister under the new Constitution, the Commission recommends the following:
(98) Provisions should be made for the office of a Deputy Prime Minister.
(99) The Appointment of a Deputy Prime Minister from among the elected members of the Parliament.
(100) The Deputy Prime Minister upon appointment should become a member of Cabinet but not have ministerial responsibility other than when he is acting for the Prime Minister.
(101) The necessary amendment of Section 63 (2) and (3) of the existing constitution that empowers the Governor General (now President) in the absence of the Prime Minister to appoint a temporary Minister to replace a Minister who for whatever reason, is unable to perform his functions.
The Attorney General
In respect of the Attorney General, it was felt that the existing system of having a political appointee as Attorney General should be retained. However, whichever way the Prime Minister Provided that if the Governor General, acting in his own deliberate judgement considers that it is impracticable to obtain the advice of the Prime Minister owing to his absence or illness he may exercise those powers without that advice and in his own deliberate judgement. decides, the requisite qualification for the Attorney General should be equivalent to that of a High Court judge. While the Commission recognises that this recommendation may reduce the pool of persons from which the Prime Minister can choose, the Commission felt that this recommendation was a way of addressing the numerous concerns expressed by the public about the competence of the persons occupying this position.
With respect to the Attorney General, the Commission recommends the following:
(102) The requisite qualification for the Attorney General should be equivalent to that of a High Court judge.
(103) The option of appointing a political Attorney General should remain.