Life peers agree with king to not stand as candidates in elections, AG says

Tonga’s life peers would not stand as nobles’ candidates in general elections despite a change to the electoral law last week allowing them to run for Parliament, Acting Attorney General ʻAminiasi Kefu told Kaniva News.

The revelation came after the life peers agreed to follow the decision made by late King George V about their entitlements.

The law lords were allowed to vote for  nobles’ Members of Parliament since 2010 but they had been barred from running as candidates.

The new Electoral Regulations 2017 which was gazetted on Friday last week meant the life peers could now stand as candidates in general elections, Kefu said.

However, Kefu alleged that he was told by Lord  Dalgety of Sikotilani Tonga His Majesty’s Privy Council had agreed with the life peers that they would never stand as candidates, a decision which was made by late King George V.

Lord Dalgety allegedly told Kefu the Privy Council made the amendment after it had found out the electoral law was incompatible with the constitution.

The inconsistency was detected after the electoral Acts and the constitution were compared.

The old electoral regulation says,

“…a Noble [Life Peer], may vote as a Noble for an Electoral District, but shall not stand as a candidate.”

The constitution says,

“Every noble shall be competent to vote in an election for representatives of the nobles and to sit in the Assembly if chosen according to law.”

The amendment came after it was found the electoral law 2010, 2(2) for nobility representatives was incompatible with the constitution clause 63 (2).

This was the new electoral regulation gazetted last week:

“1 Short Title These Regulations may be cited as the Electoral (Elections of Representatives of the Nobles) Regulations 2017.

2 Electoral Districts of Nobles (1) A Noble shall only vote or stand for election as a representative in accordance with the Electoral Districts set out in the Schedule.

(2) Any person appointed by His Majesty as a Life Peer under clause 44 of the Constitution, and having the same rights and benefits of a Noble, may vote as a Noble for an Electoral District, and shall declare the Electoral District they will vote for to the Supervisor of Elections, and shall maintain it.”

Tonga has five life peers and they are Lord Tangi ‘o Vaonukanuka, Lord Sevele ‘O Vailahi, Lord Matoto, Lord Tupou ‘O Kolofo’ou and Lord Dalgety of Scotland Tonga.

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