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Westminister

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FOUN1301 Law, Governance, Economy and Society | S3 15/16
Page path * Home / ► * Semester 3 15/16 / ► * FOUN1301 | S3 / ► * General / ► * Graded Discussion 2
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Graded Discussion 2
Second graded discussion question:
Graded Discussion 2: Opens June 13 closes June 17, 2016 @ 3:30 pm (EC Time) (15 marks).
Question: Evaluate whether the Westminster model system of government adopted by English speaking Caribbean countries accommodates corruption

Graded Discussion 2 by Sophia De La Rosa Williams - Wednesday, 15 June 2016, 9:05 AM Westminster system of Government can be defined as a democratic,parliamentary system of Government modelled after that of the United Kingdom system , as used in the Palace of Westminster (the Parliament of the United Kingdom).This system is a series of procedures for operating a legislature.It is used in most commonwealth nations.Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It can be classified as grand,petty and political,depending on the on the amount of money, lost and the sector where it occurs.According to Arnold Heidenheimer corruption is "perversion or destruction of integrity in the discharge of public duties by bribery or favour".I think it is safe to say that corruption and the Westminster system go hand in hand, the Westminster system has an inbuilt lack of checks and balances,this system is also based on majority rule, which is the rule of first pass the post method of election.In Trinidad and Tobago the use of ones office as a bargaining tool is becoming more apparent each day,we have the Housing Development Cooperation (HDC),this ministry seems to be a strong hold for corruption and it has nothing to do with the ruling party because the opposition is involved as well.In this ministry very little gets done in the legal way and I speak from experience, employees dare you to complain because your complaint is method of elimination, if you ask me.From my reading on this topic I strongly believe that this system is designed to be a corrupt one,this system is made up of a structure which has different parts this leads a lack of checks and balances.Those with the best political minds and a burning desire to serve,when given the opportunity,eventually cave in to the system as no one person can fight it.The Westminster system is indeed a corrupt system maybe the most corrupt one.
Reference
Political Arrangements in the Commonwealth Caribbean/Law Teachers.(.n.d).Retrieved June 15,2016, from http://lawteacher.net/free-law-essays/administrative-law/political-arrangements-in-the commonwealth-caribbean-administrativelaw-eassy.php
Assessing Westminster in the Caribbean then and now(.n.d.)Retrieved June 15,2016,from http://www.tandfoline.com.doi/abs/10.1080/114662043.2
Transparency International-What is Corruption?(.n.d.).Retrieved June 15,2016 from ://www transparency.org/whatiscorruption/.

Graded discussion 2 by Petra Mitchell - Tuesday, 14 June 2016, 9:49 PM To fully evaluate the statement one must first ensure that clarity is reached with reference to what the Westminster system of government entails. Thus, this system which originated in the United Kingdom has a parliament that consists of three different units. These units include: the Head of State and the Executive branch, the House of Representatives and the Senate, with the House of Representatives having the most power. Also, the Head of Government is a ceremonial figurehead and executive authority exercised by the Prime Minister and his or her cabinet.
As such, all decisions within the Cabinet are made by consensus. Therefore, all ministers must support the policy of the government publicly regardless of any private reservations. This often creates conflict which may be force a minister to resign, or he/she may choose to resign, if they oppose one aspect of a government’s agenda. The point here is that within the Westminster model the parties are called to be well disciplined, since all must agree in order to reach consensus. These ministers who have this power to make life changing decisions were granted such power by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has the power to appoint ministers to the Cabinet and to dismiss them and this is often viewed as the most powerful constitutional power that a Prime Minister has as he/she controls the Government in the Westminster system.
Consequently, it is the control and level of power that many argue fosters corruption within the Westminster system of government. According to Corruptie (n.d) corruption is “the misuse of public power (by elected politician or appointed civil servant) for private gain”. Typical example of this is demonstrated in Grenada’s ministries where once a new government is formed, permanent secretaries always get transfer to other ministries because the newly formed government does not see them fitting enough to run the daily operations of that ministry also the ministers find it difficult to work with them and trust them. Added to this, some are transferred or even fired in order for their party supporters to fill that post. Another corruption that takes place is that of every time a new government is elected, a new Governor General is selected. Additionally, ministers that are seemingly closer to the Prime Minister are granted greater power and authority within the cabinet as compared to their counterparts who he does not necessarily favour. As it is, this can be clearly viewed as favoritism in which the head of government has used his power to take full control of my country as a result of the Westminster system of Government.
This occurs throughout the world and the Caribbean region is no exception. Sutton (2013) postulated that in a document published by the OAS (2002), it was pointed out that there are many issues associated with the Westminster model in Caribbean. These can be assured is corruption. In fact the document highlighted that; “Westminster in the Caribbean’ as the ‘excessive authority and overwhelming power constitutionally granted to the prime minister” was seemingly problematic. Sutton (2013) goes on further to state that the OAS (2002) document also posited that the, “further concentration of power due to the ineffective separation between the executive and the legislature; the erosion of judicial independence due to infringement by the executive,” creates much problems. . As such, it is very hard for English speaking Caribbean countries not to accommodate corruption because they all adhere to the practices and laws of the Westminster model system of government. References
Corruptie (n.d). What is corruption? Retrieved from:www.corruptie.org/en/corruption/what-is- corruption Paul K. Sutton (2013). Westminster Challenged, Westminster Confirmed: Which Way Caribbean
Constitutional Reform? Journal of Caribbean Studies Vol. 38, Nos. 1 and 2, March/June 2013 pp.63-79

Graded Discussion 2 by Arnelle Isaac - Tuesday, 14 June 2016, 10:57 PM The Oxford Dictionary defines corruption as 'dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery' and goes on further to describe it as 'the action or effect of making something or someone morally depraved'. In governmental systems around the world, corruption definitely exists. However, some systems may lend themselves to corruption more easily than others. The Westminster System of government formed in the United Kingdom and used in Great Britain is mirrored by many other countries including those of the Commonwealth Caribbean. In order to evaluate the extent to which the Westminster model of government accommodates corruption, it is important to understand how the system works. The Dominican government will be used as an example for these purposes.
At the head of the Westminster system of government stands the head of state or monarch. Followed is the Prime Minister or Premier. The Parliamentary House and Cabinet then follow. In Dominica, the head of state is the President, and should be free of any political bias. The monarch or constituents in general elections. The Prime Minister therefore has the authority to hand pick the persons who sit in his cabinet. This therefore leads to corruption as the very Cabinet members who have a role to play in amendment and execution of laws are favored by the Prime Minister. The President is also nominated by the Prime Minister. It is therefore evident that large amounts of power lie on the prime minister's hands. The President may feel entitled to the Prime Minister for assisting him/her to get to that position. In the UK, the members of the House of Lords are usually appointed because of ties in their families which keeps control and power among a selected few. Family influence is therefore great on the members of the House of Lords.President has the authority to approve or veto any bill proposed by cabinet. The Ministers who sit in cabinet are selected from Senators and Members of Parliament - whom are voted for by
Theoretically, the people do not vote for a Prime Minister or a specific political party, but rather someone to represent their respective constituencies in Parliament. In practice however, many political parties use the tactic of pushing the party leader in particular light especially if he or she is well favored by the general populace. This therefore weakens the position of Members of Parliament in various constituencies and place more emphasis, dependency and power on the Prime Minister. This means once he is voted into office, the people will bypass the Members of Parliament and go directly to the Prime Minister. Such situation is very evident in Dominica's present state of affairs. This creates more room for corruption in government.
Additionally, ministers of government are answerable to the House of Assembly. However, it is the same persons who form the House of Assembly. Therefore, the power is concentrated in the same circle, and it is these people who the Prime Minister has under his or her belt as part of his political party. The opposition party in Dominica is very weak, but was strengthened by three Parliamentary seats during the last general election in 2014. A weak opposition means that the task of keeping the government in check or opposing certain policies or actions become significantly more difficult than how it is dictated in the law books. Moreover, in Dominica, there are no limits as to how many terms a Prime Minister can serve. I believe this lends itself to corruption because if a Prime Minister is limited to two terms for example, he is more aware that he has to be accountable to the next Prime Minister.
The question may be asked 'who is really in charge?'. The answer is a bit more complicated that stated on paper: officially; president, in the technical sense, the Prime Minister, practical sense- parliament, and in the idealistic sense; we the people. While the Westminster system of government theoretically is a system that promotes accountability, in practice, there are many aspects that lend itself to corruption. The promotion of localized power among a specific group of people is one of those aspects. It is believed that the system of government used in the United States leads to less corruption.

References
Definition of corruption in English:. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2016, from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/corruption
Edwards, N. (2016). Fundamentals of State and Governance. Personal Collection of Nicole N. Edwards, University of the West Indies, Open Campus.
Foreman, J. (2015, April 28). Politics Unboringed - How does it all work? Retrieved June 12, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMXJOKhf_AA

Letters to the Editor
The system makes politicians corrupt
Thursday, December 11, 2014
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Dear Editor,
The Westminster system of government has outlived its useful life in Jamaica and the time has come for us to revisit our structure. It has done a great injustice not only to the people but to the politicians and their political parties. Our constitution also needs revamping as our laws need to be modernised to reflect the realities of today's Jamaica.
I do not share the view that all politicians are inherently corrupt. I believe the system is designed for them to be corrupt. Those with the best political minds and with the burning desire to serve, when given the opportunity, eventually cave in to the system as no one person can fight it. It was designed to trick the poor and promote the rich and powerful. The wealthy class funds the campaign for the parties from which they can collect spoils and they alternate parties to have the people think its democracy at work.
Loyalty to party is the most important consideration for the politicians as they stand helpless without the support of their party. Party considerations must be at the centre of every allocation of funds by the Government, and it becomes party first.
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The system is a lie. It tells you that the head of state (governor general) chooses the head of government (prime minister). Lie! The leader of the party that wins the most seats in a parliamentary election -- barring illness -- becomes prime minister all the time.
It is also the prime minister who chooses the head of state. The next lie is that no one votes for the head of government or prime minister. The electorate votes for their member of parliament and that same vote somehow endorses that party leader for prime minister. Please note that the party leader is chosen by the delegates of the party because he/she is seen as the best person to lead the party to victory, not necessarily the best to lead the Government of Jamaica.
This system has now brought us to the point where people just vote for party, irrespective of who the candidates are. This might be one of the reasons half of the eligible voters do not vote, they have lost faith, if not hope. Something is wrong with this system. People should be able to vote for their member of parliament and their prime minister separately. This might just encourage people to run as independents and encourage third parties.
It is full time we change this system or quite soon we will have only the political bases voting and our politics will be reduced to violence and our country to shambles. Both political parties have exhausted their usefulness and the system is the cause of it. Jamaicans are forced to recycle these two parties every five years as the system dictates. We are running out of options. The people are growing impatient with this party-centric system and the clock is ticking, tick tick tick.
Ryan Russell
Brompton, St Elizabeth ryanrussell577@gmail.com KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Peter Phillips, says addressing the issue of corruption remains a national priority.
He says public perception of corruption continues to mar the political process in Jamaica, despite the passage of various pieces of legislation and strengthening of extensive requirements for the reporting of incomes by public officials.
“There is perhaps no single issue, which saps public confidence in government than this spectre of corruption and which impedes our capacity for collective action,” he says.
Phillips was delivering the opening address at a conference on the Westminster system of Government, held on September 11 at the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Regional Headquarters on the Mona campus. He spoke on the topic: ‘Westminster Politics: Democratic Practice and Social Constraints’.
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Phillips said the speedy passage of legislation to establish a single anti-corruption agency in Jamaica is key.
He argued that the creation of a body with the requisite powers of investigation and prosecution would ensure even greater transparency and accountability among public officials and result in a reduction in corrupt practices in government.
Establishment of the anti-corruption agency falls under the provisions of the Integrity Commission Bill, which was tabled in Parliament earlier this year.
Under the Bill, the agency will be mandated to promote and strengthen measures for the prevention, detection, investigation, and prosecution of acts of corruption, and to monitor and investigate the award of government contracts and prescribed licences, and to provide for other related matters.
In addition, the Commission will receive declarations from all parliamentarians and public officials relating to their assets, liabilities, and incomes.
The Westminster Conference, organised by the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) and the University College, London, is being held from September 11 to 12, under the theme: ‘Beyond Westminster in the Caribbean: Critiques, Challenges and Reform’.
Other notable speakers include former Prime Minister, Bruce Golding; and Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

Evaluate Whether the Westminster Model System of Government Adopted by English Speaking Caribbean Countries Accommodates Corruption as a Way of Governance.
In: Social Issues
Evaluate Whether the Westminster Model System of Government Adopted by English Speaking Caribbean Countries Accommodates Corruption as a Way of Governance.
Evaluate whether the Westminster model system of government adopted by English speaking Caribbean countries accommodates corruption as a way of governance.
First of all, the Westminster system is a democratic parliamentary system of government that was adopted by the Commonwealth Countries. The system was created in the United Kingdom and was adopted after the British left its colonies in the Caribbean and left in place political institutions and norms. In addition the term Westminster originated from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Most of the Commonwealth Countries used this system as the national and subnational legislatures and it’s a series of procedures for operating a legislature, the Commonwealth Countries that operate under the Westminster, parliament are said to be uses the bicameral legislation (parliaments are divided into two house) or the unicameral (one parliaments).
Some Characteristic of a Westminster are:
• a head of state
• a head of government (or head of the executive), known as the prime minister (PM)
• a de facto executive branch usually made up of members of the legislature with the senior members of the executive in a cabinet led by the head of government
• Parliamentary opposition (a multi-party system)
• an elected legislature, often bicameral and some unicameral in which at least one house is elected,
• a lower house of parliament with an ability to dismiss a government by “withholding (or blocking) Supply” passing a motion of no confidence
• A parliament which can be dissolved and elections called at any time.
• A parliamentary privilege, which allows the Legislature to discuss any issue deemed by itself to be relevant, without fear of consequences stemming from defamatory statements or records thereof.
• Minutes of meetings, often known as Hansard, including an ability for the legislature to strike discussion from these minutes.
Lately, the Caribbean has experienced drastic...
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Political Arrangements In The Commonwealth Caribbean
The Political arrangement in the Caribbean is one spawned from the British Westminster system and though somewhat modified it still is one that lends to the authoritarian rule of the executive. The main features of the system are a fusion of powers; that is, an amalgamation of the executive and the legislature arms of government, a bicameral legislature where the powers are unequal and dissimilar in nature and composition. The Westminster system also has inbuilt a lack of checks and balances, these checks and balances are however found in the American Presidential system with its separation of powers. The System is also based on majority rule which results from the first-pass the post model instead of a sharing of power, so that a party that wins the election with a small majority can still form a government without first coming to an agreement with other parties. There also exists the notion of collective responsibility. With the process of first past the post, lays the possibility of one party taking all the seats in the house and thereby eliminating the check that could possibly be provided by the opposition.
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One glaring difference however, is the existence of a written constitution and the governor general as the head of state instead of the Queen. There exist in 3 of the English speaking territories a Republican system of government with a president as head of state but there is still much that remains the same as the president wields no greater power than that of the Governor General.
The Prime Minister, who has often been described as primus inter pares or first among equals, has extensive powers which give him great opportunity to control and influence the decisions of his colleagues, who either go along with him or her or face demotion in the form of back benching or dismissal. He presides over both the legislative and executive branches of government and in his role as Prime Minister he, along with his cabinet set the agenda for the country both nationally and internationally. He also appoints the members of the Senate, and determines who will sit in his cabinet. He sets their ministerial portfolios and can change them at will. There have been reviews done of the constitutional arrangement but this has only served to strengthen the powers of the Prime Ministers and done little to further the rights of the citizens, an example of this is in the case of the 1980 constitutional change in Guyana, which has provided for a presidential executive system. Under the new arrangement, the political accountability of the president to the national assembly is virtually removed. Also, a review of article 182 of the 1980 constitution shows that the president enjoys substantial immunities against impeachment. The Prime Minister can also call elections at any time and unless removed by election, no confidence motion or death can hold office for any length of time. It can be theorize that locally the Prime Minister has more power than the President, one lecturer in the Department of Government, Cave Hill Campus, noted that he acts to some degree as a demi-god.
Parliament, which is described as devalued, is bicameral. It is made up of the House of Assembly – the lower House and the Senate – the upper House. It must be noted that the House of Assembly, where the Prime Minister wields most of his power, is the more powerful of the two houses. Members of the senate are not elected but are as previously noted, appointed and thus do not face elections. As seen in the case of Barbados, the Prime Minister can draw from these persons to hold ministerial portfolios and replacing elected members who were duly chosen by the public. One can argue that the elected persons still function in the capacity of constituency representative and thus if not holding a portfolio still function in the required capacity, but one can question the fairness of non-elected members hold portfolios.
The judiciary which is usually subordinated to the executive offers virtually no checks on the executive power. Few Caribbean states with presidential systems established autonomous judiciaries with legislative review powers. According to Michael Collier, most judiciaries in the Caribbean are dependent upon their executives, where they rely upon them for their funding, appointments, promotions, and disciplinary actions, this makes the judiciaries feel compelled to support their executives at any cost. The Prime Minister also appoints the members of the judiciary, and is also responsible for making law along with his cabinet. The significance of this is that even though the judiciary has some autonomous flexibility, they must enforce the laws set out by the Prime Minister.
Cynthia Barrow-Giles in her book, Introduction to Caribbean Politics, speaks to the awesome powers of the regional prime minister noting that:
Concerns over the powers of the heads of government reverberate across the region. …The superordinate constitutional authority of the prime ministers lends itself to autocratic decision making similar to that which obtains under colonial government with powerful colonial governors. (Barrow-Giles, 2002, pg. 129)
With all the foregoing being said the Political system does provide for a mighty executive as there is little to offer a counterbalance. One can say that the Governments of the Caribbean operate with impunity under the Westminster system. With this model they face a number of challenges in terms of the level of accountability with which the governments have and the penalties in place for governments that have breached the trust of the people.
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Corruption is defined by Arnold Heidenheimer as “perversion or destruction of integrity in the discharge of public duties by bribery or favour”, and unless systems are put in place to deal with it, governments across the Caribbean will continue to behave in a manner that does little to help the majority of its citizenry. In some Caribbean states in particular, Antigua and Trinidad & Tobago the practice of using one’s office as a bargaining tool has seen the two States being brought into the spotlight in a demeaning way. Worst yet the Statesmen involved are prominent and hail from a long family tradition of parliamentarians. The family and friends circles and the geographical layout with reference to the population sizes render it very important in identifying the reasons for the lack in ethical reasoning. The question is whether these circumstances encourage or create refuge for persons who hold public positions of trust. As the Commonwealth Secretariat notes that the persons who pay the greater price for this bad governance or corruption is the poor.
Some remedies can be to give back bone or teeth to the office of the Ombudsman which is supposed to be a mediator between the government and the citizens along with the law courts. The office of the ombudsman investigates complaints made by the public against government and offer recommendations of action. In Barbados the office of Ombudsman has been quite to the point of non-existence, and is quite ineffectual.
There is also the remedy of diffusing some of the powers held by the Prime Minister. If he his powers are constitutionally lessened, and made to be checked similar to that of the President in the United State, it would offer the citizens a better opportunity for good governance. The Prime Minister and his cabinet, as well as the Parliament must be more accountable to its citizenry and the actual set up and enforcement of the Integrity Commission would ensure that this occurs.
Some territories have sought to redress the problem by establishing local government, as in the case of Guyana, but this has still not been fully effective as there is still great control of the local government officials by the national political arm. In Barbados there is the establishment of the constituency councils, but criticism has been leveled at the area of appointment of the heads of these councils by Ministers of government. It is argued that these bodies will not function independently, but will be beholden to the current government, and those who are supporters of the other government will be disadvantaged.
Whilst the Opposition is supposed to offer some form of check on the ruling government, this only extends to as long as they are out of power. There is not much that differs in ideologies of the parties and as a result sometime does not do an effective job. The media can therefore with the proper change in legislation, or privatizing of the media houses, hold the government more accountable, and be a greater information tool to the general public. Most times change does not come because people are unaware of matters in the country and therefore do not agitate for change.
The Commonwealth Secretariat offers some solutions for stemming bad governance are access by the media of government finances, full disclosure of family finances, strengthening the parliamentary public accounts committee and full disclosure and examination of government finances.
Olga Nazario notes in a paper, A Strategy Against Corruption, that the Caribbean’s modest resources make fighting corruption a priority. The devastating impact of waste, fraud and inefficiency on these countries’ economies, social development and political systems is much greater than on countries with abundant resources. (Nazario, 2007) She further notes that Dr. Trevor Munroe frequently reminds us that, despite the hardships, the Caribbean states “remain distinctive in the extent of stable party governance, the frequency of free and fair elections, the normal exchange of power when oppositions accede to office by constitutional means and in the absence of one-party dictatorship, police-military rule, civil war and political assassinations.” For this to continue and even improved, it is necessary that the measures outlined above to be implemented and swiftly.
Whilst it is not always that authoritarian leadership results in a backward or corrupt society, as sometimes for progress to be made, it is at times necessary for the government to act in this manner, but when high handed behaviours lead to a corrupt society all must be down to eradicate it.

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