UDP and PPM clash over LA
(CNS): The government and opposition members have clashed once again over the procedures governing the Legislative Assembly. As a result of the way government has opted to introduce the referendum bill, which the opposition says is unconstitutional, as well as government’s unwillingness to record the opposition’s objections, PPM Leader Alden McLaughlin and his team walked out of the Business Committee meeting this morning. Speaking on behalf of the government, Education Minister Rolston Anglin described McLaughlin as “immature” after he said the UDP had gone to “extra-ordinary lengths" to share their legislative strategy with the opposition.
Monday morning’s bust up came after the government had decided to get around the constitutional difficulties over the 21 days’ notice on the bill by bringing the government motion to introduce the one man, one vote to the House on Wednesday for debate, then adjourning the current meeting and calling a special meeting the next day in order to actually debate and pass the referendum law.
The opposition leader said as this was not new or unexpected business, which is what the special meeting provision is for, and the government’s move was a misuse of the provision.
McLaughlin told CNS he believed that as a result there would still be a constitutional problem. Added to that, he said, he had raised the point that the government ought not to deal with any legislative business until the opposition’s no confidence motion had been addressed. The opposition leader said he wanted the Business Committee minutes to record his objections but he was told by the premier that the minutes belonged to government and he would not be recording McLaughlin’s complaints.
“There seemed then no point in remaining,” McLaughlin said. “Not only did the premier and other government members not want to listen to the points we were raising, they did not even want to record our concerns in the official minutes.”
In a statement released on Monday afternoon, Anglin said government was being open and transparent and the premier, who is chairman of the Business Committee, had advised all members that the government intended to adjourn the House on Wednesday once the debate on Government Motion No.8/2012 had been completed.
“We would subsequently call a Special Meeting of the Legislative Assembly pursuant to Standing Order Number 9 in order to deal with the Referendum (Single Member Constituencies) Bill, 2012,” Anglin stated. “This will avoid any doubt as to whether the Bill is compliant with Section 77 of the Constitution, which requires bills to be published 21 days before the commencement of the meeting of the Legislative Assembly at which it is intended to be introduced.”
He claimed government went to “great lengths to communicate this” so everyone would be clear in advance of the debate. “Despite this the opposition still found room to complain and walked out of the Business Committee abruptly and went straight to the media with their one sided version of events,” Anglin said.
“We cannot believe how immature the leader of the opposition and his colleagues behave! When we go to extra-ordinary lengths to share our legislative strategy with them they still try to cause strife and division in our country,” the education minister stated on behalf of his colleagues.
Accusing the opposition of opposing for opposition’s sake as government had agreed to the referendum in an effort to end “the political rancour and division”, Anglin said the opposition members were doing everything they could to stop the bill.
The opposition have raised a number of concerns about the referendum bill and believe government has hi-jacked the process in an effort to stack the deck against a ‘yes’ vote despite initiating the national ballot. The PPM also stated recently that they intend to withdraw from the proceedings of the parliament on Wednesday unless the no confidence motion was placed at the top of the agenda.
McLaughlin revealed that Premier McKeeva Bush has refused to place the motion on the order paper and said government was not ready to debate the issues raised by the lack of confidence motion relating to the three police probes currently surrounding the premier.
The PPM will be holding a public rally starting at 8pm in Savannah Monday evening to discuss the referendum and the need for Bush to step aside until the police have concluded the investigations into financial irregularities and a shipment of unlicensed dynamite.
See Anglin's full statement below.
|Statement on LA Proceedings - OMOV (May 7 2012) Delivered by Minister Anglin.doc||29 KB|
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