Marshall: “Deliberately Misleading Legislation”

December 3, 2015

The Defence Amendment 2015 is “deliberately misleading legislation” and “insults the intelligence of the Bermudian public,” Larry Marshall of Bermudians Against the Draft said.

“To basically re-word the relevant section 4 of the Defence Act 1965 in a way which continues to allow conscription under the exact same circumstances is indeed disingenuous,” added Mr Marshall.

According to the version available on the Parliament website, the Defence Amendment 2015 indicates that should there be a shortfall in voluntary enlistment, the Governor may “provide for conscription of the required number of members.”

The Explanatory Memorandum says, “Where voluntary enlistment leaves a shortfall in the required number of members of the regiment, the Governor after consulting the Minister and the Defence Board may revise the role and responsibilities of the regiment to take account of the shortfall in numbers or provide for conscription of the required number of members in accordance with the principal Act.”

Screenshot from the Defence Amendment 2015:

Fullscreen capture 03122015 154122

Mr Marshall said, “The Defence Amendment 2015 to be tabled in the HOA tomorrow is perhaps the most dishonest, dishonorable, deliberately misleading legislation to ever be tabled in Bermuda.

“It is nothing but a smoke screen designed to hide the true intents of the current Government which is to maintain the present system at all costs. What it should be called is “The six of one half a dozen of the other” Act.

“This is a scathing indictment on the Premier who has once again broken his promise to abolish this long standing social injustice.

“To basically re-word the relevant section 4 of the Defence Act 1965 [PDF] in a way which continues to allow conscription under the exact same circumstances is indeed disingenuous as well as reprehensible.

Screenshot from the Defence Act 1965:

Fullscreen capture 03122015 215823

“In essence the Governor will be allowed to conscript if there are insufficient volunteers and that is no different from the present system. This bill insults the intelligence of the Bermudian public,” Mr Marshall said.

“Furthermore section 18 remains intact which essentially hangs a three month jail sentence over the head of every conscript if they refuse to comply. Nothing, absolutely nothing will change with this “new” legislation and tomorrows proceedings will be nothing more than an exercise in futility or more bluntly put a waste of the honorable Houses’ time.

“To illustrate this point consider that even supporters of conscription acknowledge that there is no difference between the two relevant sections of the two bills.

“On a personal note I, on behalf of my family and the group, once again express our disappointment with the Premier who repeatedly assured us leading up to the 2012 election that this matter would be dealt with most expeditiously if the OBA were to win. Yet three years after winning we have nothing but a bill which changes nothing.

“And keep in mind that this is the same individual who stated in an interview with the Royal Gazette in November 2011 that conscription was “past it’s sell by date.” That being the case how can the present Government continue to keep it on the shelf?”

“Not to be lost in all of the politicking is the sober reality that an institution which has trampled upon the rights of so many for so long will continue to do so for what appears to be an indefinite period of time. The One Bermuda Alliance must be held accountable for failing the young men of this country,” concluded Mr Marshall.

In response, a Ministry of National Security spokesperson said, ““The Bill is not being debated tomorrow.

“Furthermore, Mr. Marshall is reminded that the Ministry’s commitment was to eliminate conscription in a way that didn’t prejudice the Royal Bermuda Regiment. Lastly, the Royal Bermuda Regiment announced today that the next recruit camp will be the first all volunteer Camp.”

This comes as the Royal Bermuda Regiment announced that the 2016 Recruit Camp will be all volunteer for the first time ever.

Conscription first began in Bermuda under the Bermuda Rifles in 1957, the Bermuda Militia Artillery began conscripting in 1960, and the Royal Bermuda Regiment [RBR], which started in 1965, began with conscription in place.

The RBR said “recruits due to be conscripted for the two-week training camp in January have been told in letters sent out on Wednesday that they will not be needed – although they will remain liable for potential service in future years.”

In announcing the all volunteer camp, RBR Commanding Officer Lt/Col Michael Foster-Brown said, “I’m delighted – many people thought this wouldn’t be achievable, so it’s excellent news. It’s the result of a lot of hard work and emphasis on ensuring that service in the RBR is attractive and rewarding.”

Lt/Col Foster-Brown added, “For those who were balloted this year or in previous years, and have not started their service, their liability for service remains. They may well be called in subsequent years, but they will not be required next year.”

The Defence Amendment Act 2015, as posted by the Parliament website, is below [PDF here]:

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Comments (44)

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  1. Lois Frederick says:

    Not sure what Marshall is all up in arms about. How many young men are being conscripted for January? What is the number again? Zero. This solution is another example of satisfying the wishes of both sides of the debate, apart from the extra loud one, who refuses to compromise that is. We need to remember that the Regiment needs to remain operational, with the right level of recruitments to keep our island secure. If the need arises for additional conscripts, they will have to make up the numbers. As it is right now, they have the numbers needed and those already enrolled enjoy it so much most stay on longer, so they need to recruit less volunteers or none. Great. Makes perfect sense.

    • Sisu says:

      Why do we need an operational military force?

    • BdaConscript says:

      To be fair, Larry’s point is not about the current all-volunteer camp coming up. He is specifically (and correctly) pointing out that the ”change” in law regarding conscription is merely a rewording with the exact same intent and application.

      • Lois Frederick says:

        But if the trend continues, of recruits staying on requiring less numbers, that can be filled by volunteers, the situation will continue. With the likelihood of few or no conscripts being called up. I remember the long lists of names in the paper years ago. Things have changed dramatically as the regiment has transformed into a more professional organizations. This just sensible decision making, although a few will demand nothing but totally abolishment of the regiment, National Security has to be taken seriously.

        • Sisu says:

          And you think the regiment is the best way to take care of national security? We could be attacked (if there were actually people who wanted to attack us) and the regiment wouldn’t have a clue as to what was happening. All soldiers riding bikes to a single locations for being embodied… seems like a foolproof way of losing the battle before it even begins. The regiment is a joke and the monies spent on them providing ‘national security’ would be better spent hiring more full-time police officers and training others for riot control. Then, we would get our monies worth every day…and not once a decade (for hurricanes) and once every half century (riots)…
          Ps. we don’t need a military force to perform parades for us

          • Reality Check says:

            The purpose of the regiment is internal security , securing key points like BELCO etc in the event of civil unrest . Parades serve a purpose in installing pride in the units involved , and showcasing for the public that a disciplined entity stands ready to serve them in times of unrest and natural disaster . Let’s not forget , the regiment soldier serves his community . it’s the community , and not his superiors , that benefit from his service . He serves his own family , friends and neighbors .he cannot be forcibly sent overseas to benefit someone else . Trying to argue that our inability to repell any imaginary invaders is reason to disband the regiment , is ridiculous .

            • Jonathan says:

              After the 2005 Belco fire many Hamilton building owners installed generators for their IB tenants. With the airport, hospital and key businesses now having backup generators. The role of Belco as a strategic key point is obsolete.

              There is no evidence that participating in the Royal Bermuda Regiment parades instals [national] pride. If any lesson should be learned from the 77 riots is that a volunteer army is more likely to remain at their post and follow orders. Let’s not forget, the regiment soldier serves the Queen and her proxy The Governor. Not the democratically elected MP’s.

              • Sandman says:

                What?! Belco is of no strategic value?

                How long do you think it would take to restore power to 20,000 households if the power station was taken out?

              • Zario says:

                IB clients may have their own generators, but the rest of the people that support them may not. We do still need BELCO.

    • What Mr. Marshall is up in arms about is that young men continue to be conscripted against their will as we speak. The question is not how many will be conscripted at next years boot camp but rather how many are actually conscripted right now which is about one hundred and eighty. This is not a compromise solution merely a continuation of the present policy.

      • Zevon says:

        But next year it will be nil. Zero. None.

        • bobby13 says:

          I just got conscripted. I did my medical up at warwick camp a few weeks ago. I am still enlisted. I just haven’t been called to do two-week camp. Capiche?

          • Double S says:

            Guess you thought the exemption applied to 2015 conscripts (of which you are) and not the 2016 conscripts as noted by the regiment.


          • Zevon says:

            I did say next year. Capiche?


          That’s an assumption, not a fact.

    • Meredith says:

      They just don’t want to pay people. It is the same old Bermudian thing. If there was no conscription they would have to be paid. Bet you wouldn’t work for free Lois, No one wants to be MADE to work for free or next to nothing. It’s not Mr Marshall fault he is the good guy here standing for what’s right.
      The OBA just bullying and won’t let go how stupid,
      I guess they know how asleep the majority of the people are. People like Mr Marshall are just educating us about what is going on. No one said you can’t go to the regiment. I hope no one volunteers. The volunteer option is just another way not to pay.
      The ideal move would be to employee full time 300 men. They would be attached to our real leader the British Army and sent off to paid work. A number will be attached here to cover the required amount Bermuda needs.
      Try and get it people think how others
      Any work you are made to do should be paid in this day and age. We will see bonbye

    • Onion says:

      He’s absolutely right.

      The Regiment was always supposed to be a volunteer force but complacency lead to a virtually all conscript organisation. It’s almost inevitable that at some point there will be a shortfall in numbers and conscription will return.

  2. Kenik says:

    I don’t see Marshall’s point.

  3. joank says:

    He is a one man band! We DO need the Bda Regiment to not only help the Police but to help when we have hurricanes or public disobedience. our young people need some discipline today more than ever, it gives them pride in themselves. Some kids are lost and heading towards the wrong road. Why isnt the army a great alternative? Its nice to see females participating as well. Its a great career for our young people.

    • Jonathan says:

      He is not a 1 man band. There is no evidence that serving in the Royal Bermuda Regiment instals [national] pride. What’s ironic is that the names of potential recruits are first “filtered” by the Police. Those with a history of anti-social behaviour are rejected as potential recruits. This leaves the already “disciplined” young men & women to be chosen. I’m glad the 2016 RBR cohort will comprise of all volunteers. But the issue is the OBA promised in 2012 to end conscription and now they have reneged.

    • jono says:

      We need an army to clean up after a hurricane?? We need an army to perform for us at parades?? We need to force our young men to serve in an army so they can be disciplined?? No. We don’t. This isn’t North Korea. Those things can be performed by volunteers outside of a military institution. And if the regiment was really the bastion of discipline you would think they could at least stick to something as simple as…a schedule? Apparently not. Hurry up and wait. Also, conscription has been on the books for 40+ years and our ‘kids’ are doing worse now than ever. But let’s keep conscripting and having an army because more of a bad thing makes less bad things happen? You probably support less gun restrictions in America after mass shootings too, right?

      • Cup Of Tea Anyone? says:

        ask all the elderly who had their homes patched up by the regiment if they feel the same as you…..


  4. UmJustSaying says:

    People got paid to re-write that! Hmmm!!!

  5. Rich says:

    What the clause seeks to do is reword the previous provision with the added gloss of interpretation from the Privy Council regarding the Governor and Regiment’s obligations re seeking volunteers first.

    So while the Government can argue that there is a change in the wording of the statutory provision, there is no change in the EFFECT of that provision as already understood following judicial consideration.

  6. Serious Though says:

    Just add a line.. the parliament have to be consulted and vote on this clause. Meaning the minister of defence have to ask authority from people’s house ..

  7. Dark star says:

    Why don’t they just change the law so that if you drop out of high school at any time you are automatically in the regiment for 5 years and if you don’t go to college (and finish college) your in for 3 years


      Agree with you except the bit about “if you don’t go to college”. Not everyone can afford it, nor does everyone require it.

  8. John E. Thorne says:

    It is not very often that I agree with Larry Marshall however, in this instance I agree 100%.

  9. hulk_too says:

    so sad…… Mr. Marshall is saying……….. just stand up Bermuda …… this could apply to any law …… would we rather it re – worded or changed …… if we don’t stand for something … we fall for anything ….. this is why we going backwards as a country …… we are unable to come together on anything… quite incredible …… shucks …. where is the peace n love. We have gotten away from simplicity … so sad..
    one love
    one heart ….. at all times

  10. Takbir Karriem Sharrieff says:

    We do not need a bunch of foot shuffling begruding ganja smoking conscripts in our army.It is an opportunity to give public service to the community in which we live,we wont demean ourselves to just conscript cannon fodder then give them a medal for doing nothing but dragging their feet all the way to the grave.There is no honour in that kind of behaviour ,only shame in their game.And your concern about Bermuda not being able to control you punks in time of riot and civil unrest,we can just Bring in the Royal Inniskilling Fusileers like we did before,,,,,,,,ere lad these are me muckers,,,,,and the Island will be so quiet that you can hear a pin drop.Even the politicians will get in off the street.There mill be Martial Law ,,,not Marshall Law so just go away and play with your cellphone and leave the fighting for the real men ,,,,,if there are any left in the Island after you all have same sex marriage.

  11. ROGER LAMBERT says:

    I’m happy with conscription always being in the law books. One day Bermuda may need higher numbers than the volunteers could give. I suppose we could always ask the foreign nationals to join Our Regiment & get Status for helping us. :( if that had to happen.

    • Jonathan Dill says:

      Status can not be granted because of the immigration act. However the Defense Amendment ACT 2015 would now allow foreign nationals (guest workers) who are legally living in Bermuda to volunteer and get paid. Serving in the RBR is not considered “work” hence does not circumvent any current labor laws.

  12. Stephen Thomson says:

    Forcing young men to be conscripted is outdated, outmoded and simply wrong in my view.
    If we were at war ,I would be in favour of conscription in that instance only.
    Failing that, it is simply immoral.
    I note that women can now apply for every position in every branch of the U.S. military including navy seals, special ops etc.
    Open The Royal Bermuda Regiment up completely, pay them properly, offer incentives and do away with conscription period.
    In business, we have to offer pay and incentives to attract the necessary numbers of staff. The Royal Bermuda Regiment, like the police service should be no different.

  13. Triangle Drifter says:

    Who do they think they are fooling? They rewashed the same legislation, took it out & folded it a little differently.

    Conscription is just plain wrong. The Regiment in its present size & configuration is a waste of money. A bunch of marching brush cutters & truck loaders.

    When is hurricane cleanup training day anyway?

    I do believe however that everyone in their younger years, provided it does not interfere with ongoing education, should spend some time doing some sort of community service.

  14. edwin says:

    What happens if one of these young man has accepted the fact that he has been picked for the army and decides to do his three years, after that than go off to college, now the regiment has thrown his plans on the back burner until if or when they need him.

    • Cup Of Tea Anyone? says:



      regiment will NOT stop you, at all, from going to college.

      its called deferment.

      show a little backbone and pride for your country, suck it up and serve.


      what a bunch of softies this new generation is (and Larry)


      plus, they have great tea at warwick camp!


      • Yeah you’re real tough hiding behind a pen name and calling those who are not afraid to stand up and be counted a bunch of wussies. Can you comprehend how contradictory your post is?

  15. Kathy says:

    Perhaps if we ALL were required to do a little bit of service like they require in some countries (a year or two or service immediately following high school), perhaps we wouldn’t have such socially inept youth sitting on the walls!

    • Cup Of Tea Anyone? says:

      say it again, and again, and again!

      i know a lot of bies from i went regiment with that were sitting on the wall before. they found direction and a sense of purpose. some of these bies went on to be boat captains (getting pilots liscence while in regiment) and becomming skilled mechanics. a lot just stayed on in regiment and are moving through the ranks!

      bies are getting soft these days. it used to be a badge of honor to be in regiment, going town for a drink after….all the longtails loved the uniform too!

    • Walk in their shoes says:

      Maybe that’s a better way to do it vs the current conscription lottery – just make a year mandatory for all school leavers. Although again, that’s no guarantee of eliminating discipline issues.

  16. Fidel says:

    If you are unemployed at 18 then the regiment is where you should be !!!!!

  17. ImJustSayin says:

    Are you surprised he’s broken a promise? Not me. He is the perfect poli-trickster. They wanna draft these young men and women for there ceremony’s. OMG! don’t let it not be enough soldiers for there ceremony’s. The original idea of conscription was at times of war. Not for ceremony’s.

  18. ImJustSayin says:

    Let this be a lesson. You don’t trust any government or any politician and certainly not the Premier.

  19. bluebird says:

    There are more ex-military and military in our society than there are “CLOWNS” like some of you are and they are quiet and Proud of having served the regiment and there Island.
    They understand unlike some of you that we need a military a police force and a fire brigade to protect us from some idiots.
    Being a Couch Potato or an armchair critic and too lazy to do anything for the community leaves a lot to be desired.