A report on establishing a legal office for the National Assembly that would offer assistance with drafting Bills for the Opposition is expected to be taken back to the Parliamentary Management Committee (PMC) before the parliamentary recess begins.
“The PMC has more or less, in principle, agreed [to the establishment of the office],” Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman told Stabroek News. The joint opposition, APNU and AFC, which hold an unprecedented one-seat majority in the National Assembly have called for Parliament to have its own legal office, particularly after Attorney General Anil Nandlall had earlier made it clear that his office would not be providing assistance to them in terms of the drafting of Bills.
The issue came further into the spotlight when two opposition Bills passed by the House were sent to the Attorney General for an “assent certificate” ‒ a procedure that was criticised by several commentators including APNU spokesman on Finance Carl Greenidge who said it is neither a legal nor constitutional requirement. Subsequently, Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs told Stabroek News that he would seek legal advice on the sending of Bills and other material to the AG following approval by the National Assembly after criticisms that doing so was “inappropriate.”
In April, a proposal for the National Assembly to have its own legal office was taken to the PMC with both opposition and government indicating support for this move, Trotman said at the time.
The Speaker on Friday told Stabroek News that after the proposal was taken to the PMC, a sub-committee to push its implementation was formed. He said that it is expected that the sub-committee will be able to make its report available to the PMC before the August 10 recess begins. “It has a number of ends that it has to tie up,” Trotman said, identifying issues such as salary scale and books, among a number of other issues that are to be considered.
He added that a place for the office has already been identified and this is adjacent to the library which would be useful for research purposes.