Attorney General Carl Bethel.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel apologised Monday after his office failed to deliver a resolution extending Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis' emergency orders in time for last week’s sitting of the House of Assembly, causing the Governor General’s original proclamation of emergency to end at midnight.
Governor General C A Smith nonetheless signed a new proclamation of emergency Monday evening in time for the COVID-19 curfew and restrictions to remain in place when the previous proclamation expired.
Parliamentary rules say a resolution can only be debated if 24 hours’ notice is given, unless the House of Assembly agrees to waive the rule. The Official Opposition did not agree to waive the rule Monday, so although Dr Minnis tabled a resolution to extend his orders during Monday morning's sitting, the resolution could not be debated and passed prior to the expiration of the proclamation.
“As minister, I must accept and freely do accept full ministerial responsibility for this oversight,” Mr Bethel said in the Senate Monday.
“I reiterate that I take full ministerial responsibility. The government of the Bahamas has every right to expect and to rely upon timely, and in-time, advice from the Office of the Attorney General. This is not the Prime Minister’s oversight. This is not the government’s oversight. It is the oversight by my office, and my oversight. I apologise for this procedural oversight to His Excellency the Governor General, the Prime Minister, the government of the Bahamas, and the Bahaman people.
“I was informed that the opposition, prior to this morning’s sitting of the House of Assembly, had indicated an intention not to waive the 24 hours rule, which requires at least 24 hours’ notice between the tabling of any motion and any debate on that motion. The opposition are fully entitled to rely upon the rules of the House.”
Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis slammed the mistake as an example of incompetence and ineptitude.
See Tuesday’s Tribune for more on this story.