AG and Mitchell clash in the Senate

Despite Attorney General Carl Bethel’s insistence that the emergency proclamation and emergency regulations were properly tabled in the Senate last Friday, he and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Senator Fred Mitchell got into a heated back-and-forth in the upper House yesterday.

Mitchell and Bethel clashed on Monday over the same issue. Bethel then sought to verify that the documents were properly tabled – which he said he did.

When the Senate met yesterday, Mitchell said, “I am saying that I would go and wish to see the document, and that’s all.”

Bethel then rose to his feet and responded, “You don’t need to ask us that. You just need to go, as any senator can, to the clerk.”

Mitchell said, “If that is so, the lawyers will have to deal with it.”

When contacted for clarification on that statement, Mitchell said the opposition has lawyers on standby who are prepared to challenge the legality of the proclamation.

As noted earlier, there was confusion in the Senate on Monday after Bethel said the clerk of the Senate advised that he, Bethel, had not tabled the emergency proclamation on Friday.

Bethel later confirmed that he checked the tapes of the Senate meeting from July 3 and that he did table the proclamation on that day.

When the Senate got started yesterday, Bethel read a letter from the Senate clerk, addressed to him, stating that he is now satisfied that the proclamation and emergency powers were properly tabled by the attorney general.

Bethel said, “The fact of the matter is that the files in the possession of the clerk, the audio/visual record, are the records of the Senate.”

A resolution extending the emergency proclamation and regulations to July 31, was passed in the lower House yesterday. Senators are expected to debate the resolution today.

The original emergency proclamation, which was declared on March 17 and was extended several times, expired on June 29.

Bethel accepted responsibility for the unexpected expiration, calling it a “procedural oversight”.

Governor General C.A. Smith declared a new state of emergency, which took effect June 30.

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