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Moultrie Set To Bring In New Rules For Parliament

The Speaker of the House Halson Moultrie. (File photo)

The Speaker of the House Halson Moultrie. (File photo)

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

HOUSE Speaker Halson Moultrie, hoping to make parliament independent of the executive branch, expects to give the attorney general a draft bill next week that would create a parliamentary service commission that would control the budget and administration of the Senate and House of Assembly.

He will also table a list of recommendations to strengthen the legislature, including that no more than 47 percent of parliamentarians be Cabinet ministers or serve as parliamentary secretaries.

In September, Speaker Moultrie announced he had sought legal advice and guidance from former Chief Justice Dame Joan Sawyer, Fred Smith, QC, Maurice Glinton, QC, Bahamas Trade Union Congress President Obie Ferguson, Bahamas Industrial Tribunal Vice President Kelphene Cunningham and Bahamas Bar Association President Kahill Parker on how to strengthen the legislature.

He said yesterday: “We will pass the legislation to the executive branch and attorney general and have it passed to the public so there can be a public debate as we try to get the best system moving forward. In the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, The Bahamas is really the fourth oldest democracy but we are one of the few parliaments that do not have autonomy and separation.

“The main feature is to establish an independent parliamentary service and commission that will have a board of directors to govern the affairs of Parliament. The board will consist of 12 to 15 members, including the speaker and deputy speaker, the president of the Senate, representatives from the governing side and the opposition. We are considering whether to appoint people outside Parliament or the Senate. The board would set policy and review the administrative structure and development of the Parliament with respect to technology, research, administration and finance. Parliament would submit budget estimates and negotiate the financial position with the executive. Once a budget has been approved, the commission and service will determine expenditures. The commission will look at avenues to raise funds, developing and expanding the parliamentary channel to have 24-hour programmes, looking to receive grants, to move into various Family Islands on an educational exercise. We’re also hoping to get a new parliamentary building because right now Parliament Square, we’ve outgrown that.”

Speaker Moultrie said his team is looking at Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Barbados as benchmarks for its proposals, creating legislation that is a hybrid of the parliamentary services in those countries.

Compared to Speaker Moultrie’s recommendation, the Minnis administration’s Cabinet with 19 members is too large. There are also four parliamentary secretaries in this administration.

“We are seeking to have Cabinet that represents a maximum of 17 or no more than 47 percent of the members of Parliament so the backbench and opposition combined can actually check the executive,” the Speaker said. “The United Kingdom for example has 650 members in the House of Commons and a Cabinet of 23. Here we have basically 39 members with a Cabinet of (19 members and four parliamentary secretaries), which defeats the very essence of the separation of powers as envisioned in the Constitution.”

Comments

sheeprunner12 7 months, 2 weeks ago

It's funny that the Speaker is "in charge" of the HOA ........... but he is handcuffed by a House Rules Committee that seems to be hell bent on maintaining the status quo.

Moultrie has appealed for the HRC to act on changing the rules from 2017 ..... and they have not budged yet.

And his proposal about 47% is crap ......... that is what it is now ....... it should be no more than 30% (just like the Senate's 3 of 9). We have a GUSSIE MAE Cabinet so that the PM controls both Legislative and Executive branches of Government.

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TheMadHatter 7 months, 2 weeks ago

"... The commission will look at avenues to raise funds, developing and expanding the parliamentary channel to have 24-hour programmes, ..."

We don't need 24 hour programs. You can set the system to replay and replay over and over again the last sitting of Parliament.

As it is now, unless you work a job where you can just sit and watch tv at your desk on Wednesdays - you csnt see Parliament in action. When you get home from work and finish dinner - turn on the channel and all you see is funeral announcements. A strategy to keep the public ignorant in full force.

Hopefully the new rules will include a free day once per month where every member of Parluament is allowed to speak freely on any topic for, say, 20 minutes.

We also need 100 members of Parliament 39 is too few to run the complexities of this nation (too easy also to keep secrets) and also regular members of Parliament need a pay raise of at least 50%.

Bahamians too ignorant worried about a couple hundred thousand dollars in MP salaries meanwhile hundreds of millions of dollars are being lost and also not even coming in to begin with due to the horrible results of business feasibility studies.

We save a hundred dollars while losing a thousand dollars every 5 minutes in this country.

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sheeprunner12 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Do the Math ......... USA has 435 MPs for 320 million citizens ...... We have 39 MPs for 350,000 ........... Who gets better representation right now???????

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TheMadHatter 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Sheep you say some silly things sometimes. Maybe you should pick up the phone and see if you can get an appointment to see your MP.

It is always obvious who is on "the take" in a dictatorship. It's people like you who constantly say that Hell is filled with snowcones while the rest of our hips gettin burn.

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sheeprunner12 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Answer my question .......... Do not deflect with innuendos.

Every Bahamian citizen can see their MP every day if they want to .... or call their office or have them on email or Whatsapp ...... or know where they live.

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ThisIsOurs 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I don't think the problem is that we have too little or too much MP's the problem is a system that gives us unqualified unethical men who believe a parliamentary position is all about how much contracts I can get for myself. After Travis win I heard a number of SUPREMELY unqualified persons talking about running. One said, all I need is a suit, that's a literal statement. And 100% true. All you need is a suit. Curly hair, good looks or charisma are pluses.

Pressure needs to be put on the PLP and FNM machines.

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