News Release: Hamilton, Bermuda, Sunday, February 24, 2019 – Bermuda’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Public Accounts (the PAC) and visiting UK House of Commons Committees Clerk Dr Stephen McGinness have completed a highly productive series of meetings and exchange discussions on all aspects of PAC work over the first two weeks of February.
The meetings and exchange with Dr McGinness were very useful not only in affirming the long-standing terms of reference and function of the PAC as set out in the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly, but more specifically in helping to chart the way forward for best practice by the PAC. Members of the PAC were actively engaged in all of the sessions as Dr McGinness’ vast knowledge and experience in committee work was regularly called upon.
Bermuda PAC Clerk Mr Clark Somner stated: “It is clear that our Members want a more effective PAC and to improve public awareness of the key role that the PAC plays in advancing Parliament’s oversight of how well our public expenditures and programmes have been managed. And a primary objective for us coming out of the Attachment will be incorporating Stephen’s insights in a comprehensive Procedural Manual on the work of Bermuda’s PAC for use by Members and Clerks going forward.”
The PAC Chair, the Hon. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, JP, MP, has expressed thanks to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK and Dr McGinness for his work with the PAC, adding: “The Clerk Attachment was extremely helpful for us, and we should point out that it was actually a reciprocal visit coming after the Bermuda PAC undertook a Visit to the Parliament of Wales and to Westminster in 2018. We look forward to the practical application of the lessons learned from both the attachment and our visit to the UK last year.”
Dr. McGinness thanked Members of Parliament for welcoming him and he said: “I have been very impressed at the dedication I have witnessed from the MPs on the Public Accounts Committee, and their desire to ensure that the Committee delivers for the people of Bermuda in uncovering how public money might be spent more effectively. I hope that they continue to develop their skills and make their PAC into the Queen of Committees within the House of Assembly.”
He was also able to meet with Speaker of the House of Assembly, Dennis Lister, JP,MP, and Clerk to the Legislature, Mrs Shernette Wolffe, for discussion on practice and procedure for the newly established Parliamentary Oversight Committees, which will operate under a different mandate from that of the PAC. Speaker Lister commented:
“The Attachment is a prime example of the efforts we are undertaking to strengthen the scrutiny process within Parliament, so that we can continue to have effective oversight regardless of who the Government might be. As Speaker, it is my intent to ensure that wherever processes might be weak, they will be strengthened.
“Dr McGinness’ visit was very timely for us in that it coincided with the recent creation of the new Oversight Committees, and I am certain that Parliament in general, and particularly the Members of the PAC and the Oversight Committees, have benefited from his assistance and the insights garnered during the PAC’s visit to the UK last year.”
Thanks again to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK, which covered Dr McGinness’ airfare and expenses during his stay in Bermuda.
  • Feature Photo: DCI File Photo