Government Switchboard

Tel: 441.295.5151

Cabinet (2)  

The Cabinet consists of the Premier and at least six other members of the Legislature. The Governor appoints the majority leader in the House of Assembly as Premier, who in turn nominates the other members of Cabinet. They are assigned responsibilities for Government Departments and other business. The Cabinet is responsible to the Legislature.

The functions of the Cabinet are: the final determination of policies, the supreme control of Government and the co-ordination of government departments. The exercise of these functions is vitally affected by the fact that the Cabinet is a group of party representatives, depending upon majority in the support in the House of Assembly. The Cabinet meets in private and its proceedings are confidential. Its members are bound by oath not to disclose information about its proceedings. Normally the Cabinet meets for a few hours once a week.

Ministerial responsibility refers both to the collective responsibility that Ministers share for government policy and actions and to Ministers’ individual responsibility to Parliament for their department’s work. The doctrine of collective responsibility means that the Cabinet acts unanimously even when Cabinet Ministers do not all agree on a subject. The policy of departmental Ministers must be consistent with the policy of the Government as a whole. Once the Government’s policy on a matter has been decided, each Minister is expected to support it or resign. On rare occasions, Ministers have been allowed free votes in Parliament on matters involving important issues of conscience.

The individual responsibility of a Minister for the work of his or her department means that, as political head of the department, he or she is answerable for all its acts or omissions. The Minister must bear the consequences of any defect of administration, any injustice to an individual or any aspect of policy which may be criticized in Parliament, whether personally responsible or not. Since most Ministers are members of the House of Assembly, they must answer questions and defend themselves against criticism in person. Departmental Ministers in the Senate are represented in the House of Assembly by someone qualified to speak on their behalf.

The History of the Cabinet Building (2)  

The Cabinet Building was designed in 1837 by an officer of the Royal Engineers then serving in Bermuda.


When it was first opened in 1884, it was known as “The Public Building” and housed the Customs and Treasury Departments and the Bermuda Library on the ground floor with the Council Room and the Secretariat on the upper.


It has remained the home of the Council and the Secretariat ever since, with the exception of a period

of nine years (1969‑1977) when the Executive Council was based in offices on the second floor of the General Post Office at Church and Parliament Streets.


Entering the Entrance Hall, the doors are of Bermuda cedar. Some of the cedar was given to the Cabinet Building by the Consul General of the United States and some of the cedar was from the O1d Bus Garage on East Broadway. These doors were installed in 1989, completing the renovations to the ground floor of the Cabinet Building.


There is a large portrait above the stairs, facing down into the Entrance Hall, which is that of Queen Victoria. This is a copy an original portrait which hangs in St James’ Palace, London and is on loan from the St. George’s Foundation of New York. It shows the young Queen at the beginning of her reign, shortly after her marriage to Prince Albert of Saxe‑Coburg-Gotha.


In the Upper‑Hall, over the stairs, note should be taken of the portrait of Sir Thomas Gates who was with Admiral Sir George Somers in the Sea Venture in 1609.


In the Upper-Hall, facing the stairs is a portrait of William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke; the original, painted in 1627 for King Charles I, hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.


To the right is a portrait of Sir Edwin Sandys, a member of the Bermuda Company during the early years of colonization.


Lord Sandys, a descendant of Sir Edwin, had two copies made of the original portrait and in 1959 kindly presented one to Bermuda and the other to the House of Burgesses in Richmond, Virginia, to mark the 350th anniversary of the settling of both Bermuda and the Virginia Colony.


From the large casement window in the Upper Hall a pleasant view of Hamilton Harbour can be seen which, from April to November each year, includes cruise ships alongside Front Street.


Either side of the casement window are portraits of King George III (1760‑1820) and Queen Charlotte these are believed to be the works of Allan Ramsay, Court Painter (1713 ‑1784). It was the taxation policy of George III and his Minister, Lord North that so exasperated the North American colonists that on 4th July, 1776, they proclaimed their independence from Great Britain.


To the left of the door leading into the Senate Chamber is a portrait of Sir Francis Forbes who enjoyed a successful career in the legal profession and, moving to the Southern Hemisphere, served as a Chief Justice in New South Wales.

The Cabinet Building Grounds (2)  

Immediately beyond the flagpole located at the front of the Cabinet Building is the Cenotaph –Bermuda’s memorial to those who died in the world wars of 1914   1918 and 1939   1945. Remembrance Day is observed each November 11th, with a simple and moving ceremony, in which wreaths are laid by the Governor, the Premier, the Opposition Leader, the Commander of The Bermuda Regiment and Resident Services and Service Associations.

The monument is a replica of the Cenotaph, which stands in Whitehall, London and except for the engraved slabs, which came from England is built entirely of Bermuda Limestone.

To the east of the Cabinet Building is a granite obelisk which was erected by the people of Bermuda to the memory of Major General Sir William Reid, KCB, Governor of Bermuda from 1838 to 1846.