Ample time to prepare


Leader of Government Business in the House of Assembly, Minister of Health John Boyce is adamant that the Opposition had months to prepare for the debate on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill.
He was making his contribution to the debate in the Lower House yesterday morning as the House considered the amendment, which seeks to change the age of retirement from 62 to 67 years for the Offices of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Auditor General, both of which are created within the Constitution of Barbados. Boyce contended that notice of the Bill was given since January 22, of this year, though the Opposition was told on June 23 that the debate was imminent.
“All members are very aware that we are not so much guided by what the Government indicates after Cabinet on Thursday or over the weekend after Parliamentary meetings… It is more guided by the Order Paper, which is shared with all members in a very timely manner,” he said.
Boyce indicated that it is Government’s position that once a bill or resol-ution has been added to the Order Paper of Parliament, it is also added to the agenda for meetings of the parliamentary group. At that time, he said it is discussed and decided who will lead the debate and the support speakers are put in place for whenever that debate occurs. This is a position, he suggested, the Opposition should also adopt.
“There are items that sit on the Order Paper for a very long, long periods, but the point is the im-portant thing for any parliamentary group – whether Government or Opposition, a very important rule of order that should be followed is that once an item is placed on the Order Paper, you get to the point of placing it on your parliamentary group agenda, discussing and identifying strategy,” the Leader of Government Business maintained.
He made the point while also responding to the issue raised by his counterpart on the Opposition side, St. Michael South East MP Santia Bradshaw, who said that given the nature of the amendment, the Opposition believes it required formal preliminary discussions with that side prior to Government seeking to have it passed. Boyce said that such discussions are largely up to the leaders of the two political parties and was not a decision of the Parliament. (JRT)

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