Shedding Light on the Origin of the Constitution of Barbados
Submitted by Tee White
The origin of the constitution of Barbados is to be found in Section 5 of the Barbados Independence Act which was passed in the British parliament on 17th November 1966. Section 5, Part 1 of this Act states:
1) Her Majesty may by Order in Council, made before the appointed day, provide a constitution for Barbados to come into effect on that day. (That day refers to independence day, 30 November 1966.)
Parts 2 – 5 of section 5 of this Act go on to provide details related to the above Order in Council, including the fact that it needed to be laid before the British parliament after it had been made (Part 5).
The UK House of Commons Information Office explains that Orders in Council are a type of Statutory Instrument. These are pieces of legislation which “allow the provisions of an Act of Parliament to be subsequently brought into force or altered without Parliament having to pass a new Act. They are also referred to as secondary, delegated or subordinate legislation”. Therefore, the Barbados Independence Order 1966 was a statutory instrument designed to give effect to the Barbados Independence Act, 1966.
With regard to the writing of these instruments, the UK House of Commons Information Office states that, “Statutory Instruments are usually drafted by the legal office of the Government Department concerned, often following consultations with interested bodies and parties whilst the Statutory Instrument is in draft. They are then “made” in the name of the person (usually a Secretary of State or Minister) authorised by the parent Act”.
The Barbados Independence Order appears over the name of W.G. Agnew who appears to be Sir (William) Godfrey Agnew, who was the Clerk of the UK’s Privy Council at the time of Barbados’ Independence. The constitution of Barbados appears for the first time as a schedule to the Barbados Independence Order which was laid before the UK parliament on 22 November 1966.
Therefore, the evidence strongly suggests that the Barbados constitution was essentially the work of the British government and that the people of Barbados were excluded from taking part in framing the fundamental law of our country