Joint select committee to review job description, code of ethics for MPs

A joint select committee of Parliament is to be established next week to review the written job descriptions and enhanced code of ethics which have been drafted for parliamentarians.

This was disclosed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in a statement to Parliament on Tuesday.

The job descriptions and the enhanced code of ethics, which are to be tabled in Parliament, are among a raft of measures Holness announced during a press conference last month, under which he said members of the political directorate will be held to account for the higher salaries they will receive as part of the Government’s compensation review for the public sector.

“We have consulted with the Opposition, and we have so far shared one document (job description) with them and others will follow shortly. We hope that within short order we can establish a process where these job descriptions can be finalised and made public and become the template, the framework against which the execution of our duties can be judged by the public,” he said.

Holness said the committee will also be tasked to “articulate an accountability framework and to finalise for ourselves, the code of conduct”, adding that it is important that the Parliament establishes its own integrity.

In response, Opposition Leader Mark Golding said the Opposition is “in favour of anything that will entrench integrity in the life of parliamentarians, [provide] clarity around what our roles are so that the wider society understands and can hold us accountable for what we do or don't do, and so we intend to engage constructively in this process”.

“We received the long-overdue job descriptions today. We will review them and we will name our representatives to the joint select committee that is being established, and we look forward to receiving the draft code of conduct, so we can do the same,” he said.

Following backlash from the public regarding the huge salary increases — in some cases by more than 200 per cent — for politicians, Holness, at that May press conference also announced that he would not take the increase that would have seen his pay swell to $28.6 million in April 2024.

He remains at his current salary of roughly $9 million and will not receive any retroactive payments.

Holness said that while he rejected the new salary package presented for the prime minster, the proposed wages for other politicians remain intact.

The prime minister, in stating that he encourages ministers to accept the new rates, said it would not come without strict accountability. He said that in addition to other sanctions, ministers will now be fined for missing parliamentary sittings.

“We decided that what we would do is to maintain the structure of accountability which has long been established now for more than 50 years. You want to align your compensation with the responsibility that’s critical,” he said.

“So when we brought the salaries to the public, we didn’t necessarily emphasise this other element of it. However, to be clear, on several occasions, I have said that now that we have addressed salary issues, the next phase of the reform must be productivity which involves a new performance-based system and an accountability system.”

The accountability framework for parliamentarians will also include written accountability reports by Members of Parliament (MPs); special courses of training for MPs and senators, while ministers will be required to publish targets and policy goals.

ALECIA SMITH , Senior staff reporter;

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