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NOW THAT CONSTITUTIONAL and electoral reform is in the air, I would like to return to a proposal I submitted to the Henry Forde Commission when they visited London.
1. The number of parliamentary constituencies should be reduced to 15. The small constituency of the City of Bridgetown should remain untouched or slightly enlarged if necessary, and continue to return a single Member of Parliament as it does today, who could be male or female. Voters should continue to mark a single X against the name of the candidate of their choice.
2. The other 29 constituencies should be reduced to 14. Each of these 14 should return two members, one male and one female. In the voting booth the voter would be given a single voting paper which would have two parallel lists, one headed “Men” and the other “Women”. The voter may place an X against one name from each list. Two or more Xs in one or both lists will spoil the ballot.
The man with the highest number of votes in the men’s list, and the woman with the highest number of votes in the women’s list, will become the two representatives of that constituency. The one with the higher number of votes will be designated Senior Member, and the other Junior Member for that constituency.
I would remind the populace that this system of double-member constituencies was in place prior to 1966, just in case there are those ready to say “it wouldn’t work in Barbados”, as we do when we are not wanting to think.
Far-seeing persons will recognise that a House of Assembly of roughly equal numbers of men and women may well prevent a male wipe-out as women come to realise their numerical superiority.
On another subject, I heartily endorse the idea of a “People’s Grassroots Manifesto” independent of any party manifesto.
– SIR WILFRED WOOD