Chipman and McAlpine stand with opposition on House ruling


Reece Chipman, MP for Centreville. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff


PINERIDGE MP Rev Frederick McAlpine.


Deputy Chief Reporter


TWO Free National Movement MPs stood alongside the Official Opposition yesterday against the House of Assembly proceeding with its normal agenda after the issue of opposition question time was raised during the sitting.

Centreville MP Reece Chipman and Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine were the only two government MPs to stand with the four opposition members of Parliament on a trivial matter, which simply came down to the accommodation of a question period.

Mr Chipman first stood on a point of privilege and asked House Speaker Halson Moultrie to clarify which House agenda was being followed in accordance with Section 39 (2) of the rule book.

The rule states that unless the House determines otherwise, it shall proceed to following business on the second Wednesday in each month provided the House is sitting during that month, then it lays out the order of business for the second Wednesday.

Following this, Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells, leader of government business, moved that Parliament continue with its normal agenda.

When the motion was put forward, the two government MPs along with the opposition stood. However the motion was successfully carried in accordance with Rule 39 (1).

Later, Speaker Moultrie revealed Official Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis wrote a short letter dated November 26, giving the chair formal notice of the minority’s intention to invoke question time beginning the first day of December 2018 and for the duration of the current legislative session.

In response, on November 30, Speaker Moultrie responded.

“While I admire the spirit as expressed in your letter and appreciate that it is in harmony with both the spirit and intent of the Westminster model, the unfortunate fact is that the very letter of the rules expressly forbids you from proceedings as you seek to do unless, of course, both you and the House are in like spirit on the second Wednesday of each month,” the Speaker wrote.

“Accordingly, you are directed to note that Article 55(1) and Rule 59(1) must be read in conjunction with Rule 39. With respect to the ‘order of business,’ Rule 39(1) and 39(2) state very clearly that you can proceed as the intent in your letter implies; ‘unless the House determines otherwise.

“Clearly the rules intend question times as an accommodation exercise rather than an unfettered right. Rule 59(1) and its proviso is a rather unfortunate written construction as it appears to run counter to the essentials of transparency and accountability. It is also incredible that the framers of the rules in 2005 did not see the particular rendering in rule 39 and rule 59 as possible mischief to be avoided at all cost.”

The Speaker said the matter underscored the need for action on the part of the House Rules and Business Committee, adding there was much work to be done.


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