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Motion For The Adjournment Of The Assembly To 7th August, 2013 – July 25, 2013

Hits: 3406 | Published Date: 25 Jul, 2013
| Speech delivered at: 61st Sitting - Tenth Parliament
| Speech Delivered by : Hon. Basil Williams, MP

Mr. B. Williams: If it pleases you Mr. Speaker. Sir, a grave danger has been averted in this Parliament. That is the attempt and usurpation and the hijacking of the powers of this Parliament and in particular, of your power under the Standing Orders.
Standing Order 8, rule (1), says this inter alia:
“The adjournment of the Assembly shall be to the next sitting.”
On the 18th of July, the Adjournment was to the 25th of July; this Sitting. Standing Order 8, rule (2) says:
“If, during the adjournment of the Assembly, it is represented to the Speaker by the Government, or the Speaker is of the opinion, that the public interest requires that the Assembly should meet on a day earlier...”
There is no power under the Standing Orders to postpone an adjourned date. There is none. It contemplates, perhaps in cases of emergencies that the adjournment date is brought forward. There is no power to postpone to a later date.
Therefore, when we received this missive from the Hon. Prime Minister, letter dated July 24th, 2013; we were particularly struck by these words in the second paragraph.
“The Government has decided to postpone the sitting from Thursday, July 25th, 2013, to Wednesday, August 7th, 2013”
Sir, there is no reference whatsoever to your imprimatur; to your power under the Standing Orders, none whatsoever and it constitutes a blatant and arrogant act on the part of the Prime Minister and the Government, yet another attempt at an incursion into the powers of the National Assembly of this Honourable House.
What are the reasons given for such an act? I again refer Members to this missive.
“It it for the objective of restoring these items and ensuring their safe passage through the National Assembly.”
These items are the Hydro-Electric Power (Amendment) Bill and the motion on the debt ceiling; that is the reason given for this missive to this Honourable House.
Let us examine the basis of that proposal given for this letter. The motion on the debt ceiling on the 18th July, 2013, did not pass; equally the Hydro-Electric Power (Amendment) Bill. Why postpone it to the 7th August, 2013? Is that to suggest that the motion on the debt ceiling could return to this Honourable House on the 7th of August? Let me respectfully refer Members to Standing Order 26, rule (e) and it says this – it is captioned Admissibility of Motions:
“In order that a motion may be admissible, it shall satisfy the following conditions, namely:”
And it sets out we reach rule (e):
“It shall not revive discussion of a matter which is likely to be discussed in the same session;”
When does this session end? This session ends on the 9th of August, 2013. In other words there is nothing that the Government can do to bring the motion on the debt ceiling back to this session. They are precluded from returning with it from this session. Therefore, there is no basis for the adjournment or purported adjournment to Wednesday, 7th August. There is none whatsoever; it is merely a rouse because it cannot come back this session. There is nothing whatsoever to justify this attempt to postpone the Sitting.
Perhaps the solution is in the agenda that was for today. When one peruses the agenda for today, what do we see? We see four Bills for Local Government reform. We also look around for the outright presenter of those Bills and we notice that the seat is empty. His seat is empty just in case our arguments are carried. The Government do not want to be dumbstruck a second time because one can recall on the last occasion we were told that, “We love these Bills: We want these Bills: We want Local Government reform: We want Local Government elections.” Relying on those assurances, the Members of the House, adjusted the Order Paper and the sequence and brought the Bills right up front...
Ms. Teixeira: Mr. Speaker, did I hear the Hon. Member say that, “they lied”?
Mr. Speaker: Did I hear that? [Interruption] One second. Mr. Williams, did you use that word?
Mr. B. Williams: Sir, I do not have a need to used those words.
Mr. Speaker: I did not hear, but if it is used...
Mr. B. Williams: I said, “Relying on those assurances.”
Mr. Speaker: Oh “Relying on those assurances”.
Mr. B. Williams: We brought up the Bills and lo and behold when all four Bills were way up front now and the Minister responsible was called upon, the Minister was mute. The Hon. Minister was mute. I do not understand therefore, why this missive? But I think it is in the agenda. Recognising now that these Bills will be debated and he cannot remain mute, they decided the first tactic was to unilaterally adjourn the Parliament. Back up the adjournment with some protests outside on the road; Sir that has failed miserably. What we do not want to lose sight of is this, that this adjournment being made today must not obfuscate the attempt to adjourn it unilaterally but that letter. That is what we do not want to happen. We must appreciate that a great danger was averted with this National Assembly.
It has been contended that there were previous postponements. We say in the law, as you well know, Mr. Speaker, “The perpetuation of a wrong, does not make it right.” It is this Parliament that has to put things right. With this majority that we have we must end the lawlessness that might have gone on before us.
For the first time we are hearing that we had problems with two of the Local Government Bills. Well I am bemused because last week...
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Williams, just for clarification. What was said on the last occasion was that Government has discomfort with two Bills, but notwithstanding its discomfort, it was prepared to proceed with them; despite its discomfort.
Mr. B. Williams: But the Hon. Prime Minister just made a statement that...
Mr. Speaker: No, the Prime Minister just made a statement that despite his discomfort, the Government is prepared to proceed with the Bills. That is a repetition of what was said last week.
Mr. B. Williams: Yes, but I am coming to that. Notwithstanding the utterances, as I alluded to earlier, we had relied on early assurances that the Government wanted Local Government reform and Local Government elections. Now we are hearing that they have some problems with the Bills, but the will go ahead with it. So where is that? These Bills came to this Honourable House consensually. [Interruption] We have consented to bring the Reports and the Bills to this Honourable House by consent. I am proud of the Hon. Members who were on that committee, including the Hon. Members Ms. Teixeira, Mr. Neendkumar and Ms. Shadick. The only provision or clause that we did not have consent on was the composition of the Local Government Commission; that was the only one. That was because, notwithstanding the Report of the Joint Taskforce on Local Government, which comprised of Members of both sides of the House. This Report said quite clearly that:
“It is recommended that ...”
This is consensual too:
“...that the Commission should comprise of seven members...”
Seven members and that is what we did. The last day or the last minute an attempt was made to add an eight member. That is what happened; to change or to move the goal post. Therefore, we see that there are no genuine problems that the Government has with these Bills. What we do know as they have done in the last 12 years, they are vigorously opposing; they are resisting, we have been pleading with them, “Let our people go” People’s Progressive Party (PPP). But they still wish to maintain a strangled hold on our people in their communities in which they lived. They do not wish to empower the people in the communities in which they live, as is guaranteed by the Constitution of this land. That is what they have been doing for the last 12 years. The Bills are in the House and it is the same dilatoriness that we are having. That is the real reason for the unilaterally attempt to adjourn this Sitting from today to the 7th of August. When this House is adjourned to the 7th August, knowing that the last day for this Session is the 9th August, what is being suggested to us? There are two Telecommunications Bills on the Order Paper. Since it is Government’s business, we do not know whether they are going to come back on the Order Paper. We know that the Amaila Hydro-Electric Power (Amendment) Bill and motion cannot return; we know that.
So what will happen is, in no way would we have been able, if the Government has its way to pass those four Local Government Bills in this House. That is the whole reason – the entire basis for what is happening in this Honourable House.
We call on the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government to let the Guyanese people go. Let us have these Bills. I call on them.
In the light of those premises, we call on the Government to get on the telephone and call the Hon. Member Mr. Ganga Persaud. Let him know that there are no terrorists on this side of the House; we are gentlemen and honourable women in this House. He must feel free to come and to use his voice and present these Bills to this Honourable House, so that we can move on with the business of the Guyanese people. Thank you Sir. We cannot support the motion of the Hon. Prime Minister. [Applause]

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