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The Parliament of Barbados
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Barbados Parliament
Barbados has one of the oldest Constitutions in the Commonwealth. The office of Governor and a Council were introduced in 1627, and a House of Assembly was constituted in 1639. An Executive Committee, created in 1881, evolved functions similar to those of ministerial government. From 1938, the Barbados Labour Party developed from within the trade union movement a campaign for political rights. The franchise was widened in 1944 and other political parties existed by 1946. Universal adult suffrage followed in 1951, a full ministerial system in 1954, and Cabinet government in 1958.

Thus, by 1958, Barbados had virtual self-government, a status formally recognised in 1961. Nominated members ceased to sit on Executive Committee, and the Governor became bound to accept the decisions of this Committee.

In 1964, Executive Committee was abolished and its remaining duties were transferred to the Cabinet. The Legislative Council was replaced by a Senate.

Barbados was a member of the Federation of The West Indies, set up in 1958. After the Federation was dissolved in 1962, the Barbados Government first pursued negotiations for a smaller federation and then resolved to seek independence alone. Arrangements were agreed at a constitutional conference in London, and Barbados became an independent sovereign state within the Commonwealth on 30th November, 1966.

The legal system is based on English law. There is a High Court and a Court of Appeal. In certain cases, appeal may be made to the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty’s Privy Council. In Febuary 2001, Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community signed an agreement for a Caribbean Court of Justice to replace the Judicial Committee. The Chief Justice and other judges are appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. There is a network of Magistrates Courts.
HISTORY OF PARLIAMENT

The Parliament of Barbados is the third oldest legislature in the Americas (behind The Virginia House of Burgesses, and Bermuda House of Assembly), and is among the oldest in the Commonwealth of Nations.

The genesis of a legislature in Barbados was introduced by Governor Henry Hawley, creating a structure of governance to Barbados, itself patterned after the Parliament of England). The then unicameral Parliament originally was tasked with establishing a system of laws and was completely under the domination of the island's planter-class. The first meeting of the Barbados Assembly was held in 1639.

The initial location known as the "Sessions House" which was situated in the Marlhill, which is now known as Spry Street. Built by Captain Henry Hawley, the building may have originally accommodated his Courts of Law. (On 25 June 1989, a monument was unveiled to commemorate the site outside of the current Central Bank.)

By 1653, the Assembly moved to the State House then located in Bridgetown area known as Cheapside (then encompassing Broad Street). In 1668 the State House was destroyed by a great fire started by an explosion of the Bridgetown military magazine. Over the next century, the colony’s elected officials assembled at various locations all over Bridgetown, which were rented taverns and homes of local merchants and landlords. The Roebuck Tavern located on Roebuck Street was a favourite assembly point and was also owned by Henry Hawley. The movement of the Assembly among the various taverns in the town eventually presented an irony for the thriving colony. Governor Atkins, who was attending a meeting at Gwynn’s Tavern in 1674 commented, "I must confess I am a little astonished to see so honourable an Assembly to meet in a place so considerable as the island is, and have no house to receive us but a public tavern" (TOB 71). For many years the Barbados Assembly continued to meet in various places. In 1724 an Act was passed providing for a building for the Council and Assembly, Law Courts and gaol. The building located on Coleridge Street was completed in 1731-1732, yet the House of Assembly still often met at times at different private houses and taverns. The current Parliament Buildings were built in the neo-Gothic style in the early 1870s on the site of what was known as the "New Burnt District", which was part of a 10-acre area in the town that was destroyed by the great fire in 1860.

The Parliament of Barbados in its current form was first introduced following the 1961 general elections. In 1963 the colonial era Legislative Council was disestablished. In its place came the Senate in 1964 (due to Barbados' status as a colony of Great Britain). As the years went by, governance in Barbados continued to change in structure until both of the present chambers assumed their present numbers.

PARLIAMENT TIMELINE 1951 - PRESENT
Parliament First Meeting Dissolution Upper House Lower House Majority Party
1951 - 1956 18 Dec 1951 - - House of Assembly Barbados Labour Party
1956 - 1961 - - - House of Assembly Barbados Labour Party
1961 - 1966 - - - House of Assembly Democratic Labour Party
1966 - 1971 - 16 Aug 1971 Senate House of Assembly Democratic Labour Party
1971 - 1976 - 09 Aug 1976 Senate House of Assembly Democratic Labour Party
1976 - 1981 - 26 May 1981 Senate House of Assembly Barbados Labour Party
1981 - 1986 - 06 May 1986 Senate House of Assembly Barbados Labour Party
1986 - 1990 - 29 Dec 1990 Senate House of Assembly Democratic Labour Party
1991 - 1994 - 18 Jun 1994 Senate House of Assembly Democratic Labour Party
1994 - 1998 05 Oct 1994 26 Dec 1998 Senate House of Assembly Barbados Labour Party
1999 - 2003 16 Feb 1999 25 Apr 2003 Senate House of Assembly Barbados Labour Party
2003 - 2007 06 Jun 2003 20 Dec 2007 Senate House of Assembly Barbados Labour Party
2008 - 2013 12 Feb 2008 29 Jan 2013 Senate House of Assembly Democratic Labour Party
2013 - present 06 Mar 2013 present Senate House of Assembly Democratic Labour Party
STANDING ORDERS OF PARLIAMENT
Standing Orders are the formal written rules that govern the proceedings of the each House of Parliament and set out the arrangement of the business to be conducted as well as the rules for debate. Standing Orders (Rules) may be suspended, if the House agrees, in order to allow a certain item of business to be conducted.
Download Standing Orders of the House of Assembly of Barbados (1966)
Download Standing Orders of the Senate of Barbados (1966)
source: http://www.barbadosparliament.com
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