Parliament Office this morning said that today’s sitting of the National Assembly is on despite another statement yesterday afternoon saying that it had been postponed for two weeks.
The statement today said “With reference to the Clerk of the National Assembly’s, Mr. Sherlock Isaacs, letter, dated 24th July, 2013 concerning the postponement of today’s Sitting of the National Assembly, I wish to inform you that the Sitting will be held as was originally scheduled, that is, at 14:00 hrs, today, Thursday, July 25, 2013.
“The Parliament Office apologises for any inconvenience this change may have caused you and thanks you for your continued coverage and cooperation.”
This morning, Speaker of the House Raphael Trotman wrote leaders on both sides explaining why he has decided to go ahead with today’s sitting.
In his letter, he noted that it is the House’s responsibility to adjourn the sitting.
“In retrospect, and taking everything into consideration, I’m of the view indeed that as the House adjourned the sitting to (today), 25th July, 2013, then it is for the House, meeting in session, to adjourn to the 7th August.”
The correspondence added that “of course, national emergencies would create necessitous circumstances that can lead to a cancellation of a sitting. In the circumstances, I propose to convene the sitting and to inform the House of the letter which expresses the government’s intention” to have the sitting adjourned to August 7th.
The Speaker further stated in the correspondence that “inevitably, we will have to adjourn whether we debate the Motion or not. However, I am of the opinion that the status of the House will be diminished if we just simply adjourn through a letter being issued. A formal request will have to be made with the reasons already stated. I cannot contemplate a situation where the Leader of the Opposition sent a similar letter.”
Earlier yesterday Prime Minister Samuel Hinds wrote to Trotman requesting the postponement. He said that the move was to have consultations at the “highest levels” to see if the rejected Hydro Electric Power Bill and a motion to increase the debt ceiling from $1B to $150B, could be restored before the recess of parliament. “This intervention will provide more time for the parliamentary parties to attempt to reach consensus on this most significant and single largest transformative development project ever undertaken by our country,” a section of the letter read.
Trotman said that he received a copy of the letter and “in discussions with the Clerk, it was discussed and agreed that in view of the fact that there will be little or no business to discuss there was no sense in proceeding with a sitting.”
A Partnership for National Unity had condemned government’s postponement of the parliamentary sitting saying that it was a “cold calculated move” to delay debating the four local government bills but that with or without government the combined opposition will be present for the session this afternoon.
But Trotman said that “on the matter of the Local Government Bills, these remain within the custody and control of the government and the House cannot compel the government to proceed with them.”