Beautiful Virgin Islands

Friday, Aug 19, 2022

COMMENTARY: How far does the Speaker’s authority really go?

COMMENTARY: How far does the Speaker’s authority really go?

I have observed lately we like to take our cues from the UK to give reason for our decisions, so I went and researched the role of the Speaker in the UK House of Commons to see if I found “reserve” powers of the Speaker that we the people seemingly are unaware of based on the last motion in the House regarding this “bill”.

I checked the VI Constitutional Order 2007—nothing substantive there on their role and responsibilities and I could not find a copy of the Standing Orders on the government’s website, which should never be the case for such an important document to the governance of the country.

Sidebar: As a matter of fact, the legislature should have its own website where information like the declarations of interests of members can be found. I do not understand what all the secrecy is about. Check out Bermuda’s Parliamentary website as an example. If we are serious about educating our people to political maturity, it means making the information easily accessible.

So off I went to the UK Parliament website and found no surprises there. Two things that I did note of interest were that the Speaker is an elected member of parliament and resigns from his political party to remain separate from political issues even in retirement. For clarity, someone needs to explain to we the people what “head” of the House of Assembly means in the press release about the ‘select committee motion’.

Absurdity needs to stop

In nothing I have read says a Speaker has the authority to make decisions on behalf of the House of Assembly so the “official capacity” he acted in is unclear and why the assumptions were made in the first place.

All I know is the absurdity needs to stop. Seventy plus years ago THIS month our ancestors took a risk and put their lives on the line to challenge the status quo to get back the Legislative Council.

And it is disappointing to see how lightly we take the PRIVILEGE and RESPONSIBILITY of governing ourselves with these recent antics! I barely watch or listen to proceedings anymore because I do not hear the substantial debate that speaks to how legislation is to affect our daily lives. Just rubber-stamping of laws, exemptions, or political jousting.

That House is one of our sacred institutions that is supposed to be REFLECTIVE of the best in us and if the people in there, in whatever capacity, do not respect that or intend to perform their duties in a professional and respectful manner, then it appears to me they need to look for a new job.


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