Collective vote is ‘undemocratic’- Beecroft

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KATE Beecroft MHK may have failed to persuade Tynwald to rethink the rules on collective responsibility of ministers, but she remains convinced the current system is undemocratic.

Last week the Douglas South MHK and Liberal Vannin member failed to win support for her call for the Council of Ministers to investigate methods to ensure collective responsibility is enforced ‘by way of an open, transparent and democratic system’ and report back to Tynwald by May.

An amendment by Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK, stating the court supported the existing system, was approved. Members of the Council of Ministers are expected to vote in favour of policies agreed by ministers in Tynwald. Department members are expected to back their department’s policy, or resign or be sacked unless they have a clearly stated pre-determined position on the issue.

Speaking after the debate, Mrs Beecroft said: ‘The Chief Minister tabled an amendment before I’d even finished speaking. I just felt they wanted to get Tynwald over and done with.’

She said she hoped the outcome of the tuition fees debate would have been different if ministers had not been bound by collective responsibility.

‘I think collective responsibility gets in the way of good decisions,’ she said.

‘Until you change the way government works you are not going to get democratic decision on it.’

And in fact, she wasn’t surprised her motion failed due to collective responsibility. She said: ‘What came out of the debate which did surprise me was CoMin had recently looked at the code of collective responsibility and were satisfied with it. But no other parliamentarian has been asked whether they are satisfied with it. We have this system which is governed by collective responsibility but CoMin makes the rules on collective responsibility.’

Douglas North MHK Bill Henderson was sacked as Treasury member over his stance on the Education department’s tuition fees proposals.

She queried why he had been removed when it was a DEC issue.

Mrs Beecroft, a member of the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, said she was careful which department she had agreed to work in: ‘I picked DEFA because I love agriculture and I always respect Minister Gawne as a fair Minister and one who I could work with openly and honestly.’

Mr Bell told Tynwald he didn’t believe the island would have been so successful economically if it had not moved to the ministerial system from the board system in the 1980s.

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