Video: UK Minister Questioned On Bermuda Bill

January 21, 2018

Will the Governor sign it on the British Government’s behalf or not,” was one of the questions faced by British Commonwealth Minister Lord Ahmad as he appeared before the British Foreign Affairs select committee and answered questions about Bermuda’s Domestic Partnership Act.

Bill Passed In December, Sent To Governor

The Domestic Partnerships Act — which is designed to replace same-sex marriages with a domestic partnership which can be entered into by both same-sex and heterosexual couples — passed in the House of Assembly, then passed in the Senate on December 13th, 2017..

The Bill was went to the UK-appointed Governor for assent, which is normal procedure and generally seen as a formality, however it has been a topic of speculation and discussion in this case, and the Governor has not yet signed the Bill.

Bermuda’s Constitution does not stipulate a time frame for assenting to Bills, and the last statement from Government House on the matter said that the “Governor is continuing to consider” the Bill and is “taking legal advice as appropriate.”

Last month, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office [FCO] said: “The UK Government is a proud supporter of LGBT rights and continues to support same sex marriage.

“While the UK Government is disappointed with the implications of this Bill, this is a matter for the Bermuda Government acting within the terms of the Bermuda Constitution and in accordance with international law.”

The section about assent in the Bermuda Constitution Order states

When a bill is presented to the Governor for assent, he shall signify that he assents or that he withholds assent or that he reserves the bill for the signification of Her Majesty’s pleasure:

Provided that, unless he has been authorised by a Secretary of State to assent thereto, the Governor shall reserve for the signification of Her Majesty’s pleasure any bill which appears to him, acting in his discretion

  • [A] to be inconsistent with any obligation of Her Majesty or of Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom towards any other state or power or any international organisation;
  • [B] to be likely to prejudice the Royal prerogative;
  • [C] to be in any way repugnant to or inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution;
  • [D] to affect any matter for which he is responsible under section 62 of this Constitution; or
  • [E] to relate to currency or banking

Section 62, as referenced above in point “D” is the “Governor’s special responsibilities” which states he “shall be responsible for the conduct” of external affairs, defence, internal security and the police.”

Bill Discussed In British Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

During a meeting of the British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee earlier this week, Commonwealth Minister Lord Ahmad answered questions pertaining to Bermuda’s Domestic Partnership Bill.

When asked what decision he has made about “Bermuda and same sex marriage,” Commonwealth Minister Lord Ahmad replied, “I’ve raised that directly with the Premier.

“It’s of deep concern to us,” he said. “That’s an issue that I’ve raised directly with the Premier when I met with him just after the JMC and they know of our deep concern in this respect.

“I don’t know if your subsequent question will be, will we impose something on… but we are clear where we stand on the issue of same-sex marriage, it is the human right of any individual to have that right. That point has been made in no uncertain terms to the Premier and he is aware of the British Government’s position on that.”

When asked “will the Governor sign it on the British Government’s behalf or not,” Lord Ahmad replied, “Our Governor is the representative of the UK, and he will reflect the views of Her Majesty’s Government.”

He was then asked if “that’s a no, he won’t sign it,” and Ben Merrick, the Director of Overseas Territories, interjected to say, “We discussed the issue with the Minister, but also the Governor at the moment, because it is important also that it is based on the constitution of Bermuda and the legal position. So we are very clear that this is an important issue. It has not been finalized yet, but we are certainly aiming to do that shortly.”

Lord Ahmad then said, “I’ve got deep concerns about what happened there. I think what Mr. Merrick’s just highlighted is that there’s a Constitutional position…”

When asked “does the Governor take instruction from London from the Crown,” Lord Ahmad said, “Yes, the Governor does take instruction, but as you’ve suggested I will write to you on the specifics of this.”

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Comments (21)

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  1. Jus' Askin' says:

    It’s Time to go…… :-D

  2. Atlastsomesense says:

    So it looks like the Governor won’t sign it then. The British Government can’t be seen backing barbarism and stands behind basic human rights. Good for them.

    I wonder where that leaves us?

    No doubt the independence group will be up in arms but it makes no difference. Many like the idea of it, but also like that passport. Nobody wants to get a visa to go the US every time they visit. Not to mention deporting dozens of Bermudian prisoners/gang relocations, the access to living in the UK, Universities, the armed forces…..

  3. Infidelguy says:

    Based of the comments of the UK’s Commonwealth Minister, I am going to be bold and predict that this governor will not sign-off on the legislation because it does not reflect “the views of Her Majesty’s Government.

    In my opinion, the Domestic Partnership Act is in violation of an individual’s right for equal protection under the Law!


  4. swing voter says:

    Like I said after the circus ….. HE won’t sign and the FCO will welcome a convo on independence …..the British don’t want to be around when Bermuda defaults on that 2B

  5. facts of the rock says:

    He wont sign it,said so from the get go.

    The plp are being watched very carefully and finished as far as the UK is concerned.

  6. Jay-O says:

    Looks like our colonial ‘masters’ are trying to impose their culture on their subjects once again.

    • Atlastsomesense says:

      Er no. They are standing up for basic human rights.

      I think you need a long look in the mirror if you see things differently, it is 2018 you know.

    • Real Deal says:

      seems so

    • MB says:

      Yes so? Thats life when you are a territory not a nation. If you dont like it go campaign for independence…but I am betting that will never get enough votes, not now when so many are waking up to the opportunities UK can offer us. I dont know why the PLP govt even tried it…the UK has been very clear on theur stance on gay rights.

    • Sailboat says:

      Pretty much, Jay-O. Forget the subject matter, just listen to their language: “Our Governor…” and “…he will reflect the views of Her Majesty’s Government.” Sounds pretty overlordish and of typical Colonial condescention to me. Self-governing, yeah, except not so much.

    • Mike Hind says:

      The only ones forcing their “culture” on anyone are Preserve Marriage and those that support discrimination for absolutely no reason.

      Unless you’re willing to offer a reason for this awful, discriminatory bill?

    • Zevon says:

      What “culture” is that? The one where the constitution is followed?

  7. Ok says:

    Independence NOW!

  8. Independence says:

    Time for independence how dare anyone tell us what to do. Don’t they know Bermuda is another world. We don’t need them and their nonsense.

    Onions rise up! Easter Lily’s come alive!!

    It’s our time.

    International Business well sorry about you lot.

    • facts of the rock says:

      It’s NEVER going to happen!
      …..for a start,The Queen wont allow it,a simple phone call from Buckingham Palace will stop that,that’s a FACT!

  9. James says:

    Ha-ha-ha. Seriously do you think IB gives a rats about Bermuda, there are dozens of new Bermudas …Malta, Gibralter, Barbados. Every large company has a plan B.

    Meanwhile, you’ll be queuing at the US embassy for your xmas shopping trip.

    • agatha christie says:

      Do you think the UK gives a rat’s arse if Bermuda goes independent? They’ll be celebrating in the streets, thanking the Lord that they have got rid of that troublesome tax haven!

      • James says:

        Yes, I agree. Bermuda is a cost for the UK, both time and money.

        Only Bermudians seem to think they are desperate to hang on.

        It should be the other way round.

      • facts of the rock says:

        agatha dear girl,
        please drink your coolaid and go to sleep!
        ya talking nonsense as usual.

  10. spider says:

    The adults are in the room now, now Bermuda will get spanks again as if Charles Etta wasn’t enough or the Senate,time to stop the temper tantrums and move on to the 21st century.

  11. Zevon says:

    I know! They couldn’t be more different could they! Thanks again.