PARLIAMENT OF BARBADOS
Parliament of Barbados, Parliament Buildings, Trafalgar Street,
Fax (246) 436-4143, Tel (246) 427-2019
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.