During the last sitting of 15th January, 2013 the government vigorously defended its decision to seek the parliament’s support for the number of appointed senators to be increased from three to six. However, there were strong objections pointed out by at least six members of the National Assembly, including two from the government side.
In a recent briefing on matters discussed and decided on in the Cabinet, the Minister of Information, Senator Nigel Carty, indicated that the government is still hoping for the support of the members of parliament for the proposed legislation. But Carty also pointed out that “the St. Kitts and Nevis Cabinet is again lending its support to the Senators (Increase in Number) Bill, that would result in the election of a Deputy Speaker in the National Assembly.”
The Minister of Information said Members of Cabinet on Monday, (21st January), discussed the next sitting of Parliament, which is due on 29th January, 2013 when the Parliament would likely conclude its debate on the Senators (Increase of Number) Bill.
“It was emphasized that in this critical period of our political evolution, and considering the matters which are likely to come before the Parliament in due course, namely, the 2013 Budget and the Motion of No Confidence, and which are expected to generate comprehensive and lengthy debates over several days, if tabled, it is absolutely in the best interest of the country to seek through the Senators Bill, an opportunity to appoint a Deputy Speaker to provide support to the Speaker and avert any undue delay should the Speaker become incapacitated or unavailable for parliamentary business,” Minister Carty said.
“It was on that basis that it was hoped that the bill would receive the support of the Parliament to be made law and to provide for the more effective and efficient discharge of the business of Parliament,” said Minister Carty in a Post Cabinet briefing.
Opposition Senator Mr. Vincent Byron, from the People’s Action Movement, PAM, has however indicated that the matter of the appointment of a Deputy Speaker does not require an increase in the number of senators. Byron explained that there already was a Deputy Speaker at the start of the new national Assembly in 2009, when Senator Richard Skerritt, was so appointed. He however resigned in less than 24 hours. It is Byron’s suggestion therefore that all the government has to do is have Mr. Skerritt or his colleague Senator Nigel Carty, take up the appointment.
Both Government Ministers Sam Condor and Dr. Timothy Harris also indicated that it is the government’s responsibility, not that of the opposition, to provide a Deputy Speaker.
When the House resumes on Tuesday, presentations are expected from Members of Parliament Glenn Phillip and Dr. Denzil Douglas from the government side and Mr. Mark Brantley, the Leader of the Opposition. This is to be followed by closing statements from the mover of the Bill, Patrice Nisbett. Members will vote thereafter.