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Moultrie: Lack of independence of speaker can cause bias

Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie said the lack of independence of the role of speaker of the House creates bias issues with the Constituencies Commission.

“The speaker also happens to be the chairman of the Constituencies Commission, and I know a lot of you heard about the boundaries, we call it the boundaries commission,” he said as he spoke to a group of teachers visiting the House last week.

“We hear about a lot of complaints usually with gerrymandering of boundaries around election time, but the speaker really should have an independent role so that the speaker and his commission can function in a way where there is no appearance of bias in the decisions being made.”

However, Moultrie said that The Bahamas’ parliamentary democracy has not matured to the point where the speaker’s role can be independent as it should be.

“The speaker role is what I call a quasi-judicial role, and the speaker is supposed to be independent, but we have not matured in our parliamentary democracy to the point where the speaker can actually and functionally be independent, because the speaker is always usually elected as a member of the governing party or the majority party,” he said.

“The speaker has also a political role and responsibility and obligation to the speaker’s constituents and so the speaker sits in what should be an independent role.

“In other words, in the advanced democracies and parliaments around the British Commonwealth that use the Westminster system, they have decided that whenever a speaker is elected, the official opposition and the government sides would agree that the speaker becomes an independent member of Parliament and that the speaker would not be challenged by any of those parties in a general election, but we haven’t arrived at that level of maturity in our democracy.”

Rachel Knowles

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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