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‘Mps Not Mr Speaker Set The House Rules’

HEALTH Minister Renward Wells. Photo: Donavan McIntosh/Tribune staff

HEALTH Minister Renward Wells. Photo: Donavan McIntosh/Tribune staff

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

HEALTH Minister Renward Wells yesterday suggested House Speaker Halson Moultrie does not have the sole authority to implement a Prime Minister’s question and answer period in Parliament, telling reporters “the rules of the House are set by its members”.

This comes after Speaker Moultrie on Wednesday said he was considering the matter and also warned members of Parliament to be on notice that the practice of the governing party avoiding questions will not continue.

photo

House Speaker Halson Moultrie.

Asked if the government will support such a move if it becomes implemented, Mr Wells, who is the leader of government business in the House of Assembly, did not directly answer. He said parliamentarians make the laws on proceedings in the House of Assembly.

“The constitution is very clear as to who sets the rules for the House of Assembly,” he said. “It says the House of Assembly - meaning the members - there is a rules committee which I am chair (of) and my simple comment is the rules of the House are set by members.

“There is no such provision made. The only time in the rules of the House and you ought to go back to the constitution — first of all, the constitution, I think as Article 52 speaks about the establishment of the Parliament and it says Parliament should make no laws other than the peace order and good governance of The Bahamas.

“Then the constitution gives to the Parliament the right to set whatever rules it wants for this place — the Parliament — meaning its members.”

Mr Wells also went on to reference the House of Assembly Rule 39 (2) which states that unless the House determines otherwise, the House shall proceed, on the second Wednesday in each month, with the agenda that allows for question time.

Governing parties have traditionally proceeded with their own agenda, however, thus not making time for the question period.

Yesterday, Mr Wells said even though the rule has never been “acted upon” by any government, the Minnis administration still answers questions during parliamentary proceedings — especially during debates — and added he wanted to end the perception that it doesn’t.

He said: “There is a rule in the rules of Parliament that speaks to the second Wednesday of the month. There’s a 30 minute question time or something like that which has been in the rules but it’s never been acted upon by any previous administration in The Bahamas.

“What members have done in the past is that questions are put to the leadership to the executive Cabinet ministers during courses of debates, stuff has been brought up and you would’ve seen where that happens where questions are put to various things that are taking place in their ministry, in the social sphere, whatever is going on in our communities and ministers then get up if they have the requisite answers, they answer and and then if they don’t then they tell the members, ‘listen I will get back to you on that matter.’”

He continued: “So, whereas the Wednesday (rule) has not been officially recognised and followed, ministers answer questions every debate, every debate. You would’ve seen the Prime Minister answer questions during this debate.”

“You would’ve seen that I would’ve gotten up and objected to some things and answer questions in this debate so I don’t want the perception to go out there that somehow this administration is not answering questions.

“We answer the questions that would’ve been put forth in the House.”

As it relates to having a specific question period for the Prime Minister alone, Mr Wells said the matter is something the government would have to take under consideration.

In February, Free National Movement MPs voted against answering questions from members of the opposition in the House of Assembly, choosing instead to move forward with their own agenda.

That sitting marked the first where Mr Moultrie presided as an independent speaker after resigning from the governing party.

Comments

Tarzan 1 month, 1 week ago

Well said Mr. Wells. When will someone who has his ear let Mr. Moultrie know that his role is limited to being a parliamentarian functionary. No one cares for his views on anything. He is a gas bag who displays an embarrassingly fragile sense of self importance.

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moncurcool 1 month, 1 week ago

Any leader who is afraid of questions is not a leader. A leader is to be accountable to the people they lead.

And please don't tell me Davis and the PLP will do different because they have been there and did the same. In fact it was them who put in the ruling to stop the PAC and Davis never spoke against it until he got in opposition and started crying about what his own party did.

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tribanon 1 month, 1 week ago

What Wells said is tantamount to an admission on his part that our parliamentary system is dysfunctional to the point where it is no longer capable of fulfilling its important role and duties as set out in our Constitution.

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xtreme2x 1 month, 1 week ago

capable of fulfilling its important role and duties as set out in our Constitution.

One example please?

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licks2 1 month ago

No. . .you are not right. . .how you get this far "off course" with this topic any who? Our speaker is the one who has gone "bunkers" with this absurd notion that he will make rules for the "legislative branch" of government? NOT EVEN THE PM OR THE GG CAN DO THAT!! NO ONE PERSON IN THIS NATION CAN DO THAT. . .NO BODY!!

But what mr wells is telling our speaker is that: "WEEN ON HIS RUN"!!

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Sickened 1 month, 1 week ago

Mr. Wells is correct BUT I believe the current rules of the house call for a question and answer period - it was just not done. So if they don't want the question and answer period then they need to change the rules to get rid of it.

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licks2 1 month ago

The reason it was not done is because the constitution give the majority the right to not have one if they don't want one!!! They can vote to not have one and the majority wins that deal for real! This speaker followed that rule for 4 years mostly. . .now all of a sudden "heen fer dat"! Now I have to agree that it would be a good thing to have the question period. . .but that rule worked for them two parties forever. . .none of them had a problem with the majority rights to decide not to have one!!

This speaker needs to "grow-up" and act like a man. . .and stop talking fool so much. . .blustering about things that he should know that he can't do!!

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ThisIsOurs 1 month ago

The govt response is badically we don't answer to you. We make the rules. Understood... They get a couple more months till the tables turn on them.

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WETHEPEOPLE 1 month ago

I dont understand why elected officials would be afraids to answer the peoples questions, regardless who makes up the rules. And this was suppose to be the government of transparency.

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licks2 1 month ago

WHICH QUESTION WAS NOT ANSWERED WHEN ASKED IN HOA?? YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT THE OPOSITION DON'T ASK "ALL KIND OF QUESTIONS" DURING ANY DEBATESIN HOA??

IF YA ASK ME, THEY WASTE TOO MUCH TIME ASKING STUPID QUESTIONS WHEN THE GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO ASK FOR SOMETHING!!

TELL THE "PEOPLE" STOP TALKING FOOL AND WASTING TIME WHEN THEY ASK QUESTIONS AND MAYBE WHEN TO NEED TO ASK SENSIBLE ONES OTHERS MIGHT "ALLOW" THEM TO DO SO!!

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TalRussell 1 month ago

All whilst the "$650,000 Letter of Intent" Mr. Renward is picking a fight with House Speaker Halson, even the white man's is boating it to make their way to the USA mainland- seeking to secure jobs to work on the projects.
When history, comes slappin' you in the face. Yes?

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licks2 1 month ago

Tal it is so convenient to "remember" where Wells was when he perpetrated your alleged "signing deal". . .smack dab in the middle of the PLP. . .doing something oh so typical among those in that party!! The PLP "cloaked" him while he was with them. . .but remembered only after he joined the FNM!!

Yinna PLP them gat it bad now. . .

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sheeprunner12 1 month ago

Renward Wells is theoretically correct ............. but he is reinforcing the stupid House rules that the PLP created under Sears & Mitchell (2002-2007) ........ What Wells should say is: We need to reform the Parliament rules to ensure that the Government and Opposition have a balanced, transparent, and fair participation in governance.

As it stands now - the Opposition has its say & the Government has its way (not democracy)

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licks2 1 month ago

I see ya. . . but you think you and I will ever see the day in this Bahamas when the FNM or PLP make any HOA rule to benefit the opposite party?

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