BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, November 15, 2017 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Two significant pieces of legislation were brought before the National Assembly on Tuesday, November 14th 2017 where they were debated and subsequently passed into law after an overwhelming support by Members on the Government side of the Honourable House.
The two Bills, the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill 2017, moved by the Attorney General and Minister responsible for Justice and Legal Affairs, the Honourable Vincent Byron, and the Saint Christopher and Nevis Citizenship (CBI Escrow Accounts) Bill 2017, moved by the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, received no contributions by the two Opposition Members present during Tuesday’s sitting.
The only two members on the opposing side of the House were Member for St. Christopher 2, the Honourable Marcella Liburd and Member for St. Christopher 3, the Honourable Konris Maynard.
Senator the Honourable Nigel Carty, who has been suspended from the Federal Parliament on several occasions, as well as Member for Nevis 11, the Honourable Patrice Nisbett both boycotted Tuesday’s sitting of the National Assembly.
It would appear that neither of them had the courtesy to seek leave of Speaker of the House, the Honourable A. Michael Perkins.
Up to press time today, the Office of the Speaker of the National Assembly has confirmed that no apologies had been received from either Mr. Carty or Mr. Nisbett in relation to their absence from yesterday’s sitting of the Parliament.
Douglas, on the other hand, provided the Honourable Speaker with letter explaining his absence from the National Assembly.
Although Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas was given one week’s advance notice, as is required by law for a sitting of the Honourable House, the Opposition Leader gave the Speaker a discourteous 15-minute notice of his absence from Parliament.
Research has since revealed that the former prime minister departed the Federation on a chartered flight on Monday, November 13th, destined for Dominica.
It is also noteworthy that over the last month, Dr. Douglas has been embroiled in a matter involving his possession of a Diplomatic Passport issued by the Commonwealth of Dominica. Importantly, while this matter was being drawn to the attention of the Honourable House for the first time since the unsettling disclosure, Dr. Douglas was noticeably absent, and instead appeared to give priority to the attendance of private functions in the Commonwealth of Dominica over his duty to the Federal Parliament of St. Kitts and Nevis.
This move seems to reflect what Members on the Government side have for weeks been calling on Dr. Douglas to come clear on – the issue of divided loyalties between his duty as a Leader of Opposition, his duty to the Parliament and this country, and his duty to the country whose diplomatic passport he holds.
Commenting on the matter, a seasoned Member of Parliament made reference to the legal principle and equity of Dr. Douglas’ Diplomatic Passport matter, citing the quote “Equity fashioned the rule that no man may allow his duty to conflict with his interest.”
Having referred to that, the Parliamentarian says that in his view, Dr. Douglas’ public duty to his constituents and to his country is in conflict with his interest in and allegiance to Dominica.
Meanwhile, as the Parliament debated the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill 2017 and the Saint Christopher and Nevis Citizenship (CBI Escrow Accounts) Bill 2017, there was no input or contribution from the two remaining Members of the Opposition.
Furthermore, the Honourable Marcella Liburd, who is a solicitor, stood silent while the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill, 2017, was being addressed. Many people found it unbecoming that the Opposition MP should fail to express support for a Bill that would engender greater accountability in the legal profession, a bill which the Honourable Attorney General said had the support of the St. Kitts and Nevis Bar Association.
Undaunted by the lack of support and contribution by the Opposition, the Members on the Government side carried on with the people’s business and guided both Bills safely through the National Assembly.