No Room on Order Paper for Proposed Integrity in Public Life Bill from Opposition Parties

A release issued over the weekend by the government, listed five Bills that are to be debated when the Assembly meets on Thursday 28th April, 2011. However, no mention was made of the Integrity Bill that was delivered to the Clerk of the House, Mr. Jose Lloyd, last week, by Member of Parliament for St. Christopher 8, Mr. Eugene Hamilton.

Mr. Hamilton is reported to have told a local radio station that, he was advised by his colleague, Senator Vincent Byron, where the notice was delivered, that the Integrity in Public Life legislation is not part of the notice for Parliament on Thursday.

Hamilton said that as the Parliamentary Representative of Constituency Number Eight, “It is my intention before Thursday, to inquire of the Clerk, as to why the Bill is not part of the Order Paper, because they have certainly reached the Clerk in the requisite time required for any Bills, any motions to be made in Parliament.”

Mr. Hamilton submitted the draft legislation to the Clerk on behalf of Opposition Leader Mark Brantley on Wednesday 20th April, along with a formal request that it be entered in the Order Book and be included on the Order Paper.

“Bills are normally introduced by members of the Executive Branch, but Opposition members also have the opportunity to introduce Bills giving the requisite notice to Parliament, the minimum of which is three days,” said Hamilton in a media interview.

Asked if he knew whether or not the Bill had been entered in the Order Book, Mr. Hamilton said that that was a very important question to put to the Clerk Mr. Jose Lloyd.

“I would want to inspect the Book to see when every Bill or motion put by the Executive Branch or anyone else is put in the book,” the Opposition MP said.

He indicated that he would not get in touch with the Speaker, but rather would contact the Clerk, Mr. Lloyd.

“It the duty of the Clerk to see to it that the Order for Parliament is in order based on how the Book of Notices is listed.  So that is my intention to get in touch with the Clerk, and any other matter -the Speaker or anyone else – will have to be dealt with in on the day of Parliament.”

The Opposition People’s Action Movement had approached Opposition Members of Nevis Concerned Citizens Movement for their support and assistance in the preparation of the Bill.  The draft was prepared by Opposition Leader Mr. Mark Brantley of the CCM, a barrister.

Mr. Hamilton said in earlier interviews that he had hoped to have the legislation read for the first time at the April 28th sitting of the National Assembly and then allow a few weeks time for public discussion and feedback, before it was read second time.

Both the Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas and the Chairman of the ruling St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party Dr. Timothy Harris said they were waiting to see the contents of the Bill before saying whether or not they would support it.

Draft Integrity in Public Life legislation was tabled in Parliament fifteen years ago, by the Labour Administration, but never got past a first reading.

The Order Paper for Thursday’s sitting was recently circulated to members of parliament by Mr. Lloyd, listing for debate The Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill 2011, to be introduced by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Denzil Douglas.

The Order paper also indicated that Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Mr. Patrice Nisbett will introduce and have read a first time, The Criminal Law Amendment (Amendment) Bill, 2011 and The Small Charges (Amendment) Bill, 2011, while The Island Enhancement Fund (Amendment) Bill 2011 and The Saint Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (Amendment) Bill will be presented by Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Sen. Richard Skerritt.

All five Bills are to be given their Second Reading and debated.

No explanation however has been given regarding the reason for the exclusion of the proposed legislation being sponsored by the opposition. However, the speculations have started and questions are being asked about the intentions of the government and whether or not there is some fear about the possibilities of the historic piece of legislation being passed by members of Parliament.

 

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