Senate of Bermuda
|Senate of Bermuda|
|11th Modern Bermudian Parliament|
|Founded||1 August 1620 (original unicameral house) 2 June 1968 (modern bicameral Parliament)|
Since May 2012
House political groups
|The building housing the Senate and the Cabinet Offices.|
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The Senate is one of two parts of the Parliament of Bermuda, the other being the House of Assembly. Both are overseen by the Governor. The Senate is the Upper House of the Parliament, and serves as a House of Review.
The Senate consists of eleven members appointed by the Governor. Five Senators are appointed on the advice of the Premier. Three Senators are appointed on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Assembly. The final three Senators are appointed at the discretion of the Governor.
The Senate serves as a road-block to constitutional changes, the constitution requires a 2/3 Super-Majority. Thus, in order for an amendment to pass, it needs the support of the Government and the Opposition/Appointees
Of the three appointed by the Governor, the Senate elects one to serve as the President, and another to serve as the Deputy President.
Bermuda's Parliament was created in 1620, and originally had one house, the House of Assembly. Political parties were not legal, and the role now performed by the Senate was originally performed by an appointed council, called the Governor's Council, or the Privy Council. This council also performed the role that today belongs to the Cabinet (the Cabinet is composed of Ministers appointed from elected Members of Parliament from the House of Assembly). Historically, the Council, composed of members of Bermuda's wealthy merchant class, had been the true centre of power, rather than the elected House of Assembly, or the Governor despatched from overseas. During periods when the colony was without a Governor, the President of the Council might find himself Acting Governor, also. The balance of power began to shift away from the Council in the 19th Century, when Bermuda assumed a new importance in Imperial security, and when the Governor became also the Commander-in-Chief of the naval establishment and military garrison.
In 1888, the Privy Council was split into an Executive Council, which later became the Cabinet, and a Legislative Council, which became the upper house of Parliament, akin to the House of Lords, in the United Kingdom, although its members were appointed, rather than being hereditary peers.
In 1968, largely as a result of the civil rights movement, a new Constitution was introduced which made a number of changes to Bermuda's parliamentary system, making it more like the Westminster system. Political parties were legalised, and the system of a majority Government, from which a Premier was appointed and the Cabinet Ministers were drawn, and a minority opposition was adopted. Under the 1968 Constitution, the Legislative Council was replaced by the Senate. The system of suffrage, by which the members of the lower house were elected, and which had historically been limited to male landowners, was finally extended to all adults, as it had been in Britain forty years earlier.