PLP leader Philip Davis and South Andros MP Picewell Forbes depart the House of Assembly. Photo: Yontalay Bowe
OPPOSITION leader Philip “Brave” Davis wants parliamentarians to reject the recent mid-year budget communication of Finance Minister Peter Turnquest, but House Speaker Halson Moultrie quashed his effort to put the matter on the agenda for parliament to debate yesterday.
Opposition members marked their disapproval after a lengthy argument by walking out of the chamber before Speaker Moultrie ruled on the matter.
Mr Davis’ resolution called for parliament to reject Mr Turnquest’s communication because it “did not fully comply with the Financial Audit and Administration Act”. Mr Turnquest called this notion “nonsense”.
The law requires that a communication be laid in Parliament every February. Mr Davis did not explain how Mr Turnquest’s communication failed to apply with the law.
Mr Davis and Speaker Moultrie clashed on whether the resolution should be put on the agenda. Mr Davis stressed he was giving notice of the resolution, not calling for it to be debated immediately.
“The issue of whether this is appropriate comes up at time of debate,” he said. “If they don’t want to debate it, they could move closure or vote against it.”
Speaker Moultrie, backed by Carmichael MP Desmond Bannister, said he is within his right to reject certain notices.
Mr Bannister said the resolution was “highly irregular and flawed.”
“The FAA simply imposes on the minister of finance the duty to lay before the House the budget statement, that is his only duty. Any inference that he has some further duty in relation to his legislation is incorrect because there is nothing else after that that is mandatory. Everything else is discretionary.”
He added: “As I look at (Erskine May: Parliamentary Practice), May says there are notices irregular where the House essentially has a duty to reject them.”
Mr Moultrie said: “The member in his resolution was asking the House to reject the communication when in fact the law demands that the communication be laid so there must be something highly irregular about that. What the resolution is seeking to do is ask the House to reject the law. The ruling of the chair is that the notice is highly irregular and is dismissed as being frivolous, scandalous, vexations and an abuse of the parliamentary process.”