Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday accused House Speaker Halson Moultrie of abusing his power, alleging that the speaker attempted “to silence the parliamentary opposition for pure and naked political reasons”.
“As you are fully aware, the speaker of the House abused his power when he denied me the opportunity to wrap up the no-confidence resolution tabled in the House on December 4, 2019, and debated on December 11, 2019,” Davis told reporters during a press conference at PLP headquarters.
“I was the mover of the resolution and convention has it, the rules of Parliament have it, that there must always be a summing up, a wrap up by the mover of the motion unless he directs that someone else does it in his stead.
“In this instance, the opposition was denied the privilege and honor that is ordained by that convention and rule because the speaker decided…to close the debate without allowing a wrap up or summoning up of that debate.”
The no confidence resolution was the result of opposition’s concern that Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis misled the House of Assembly last year when the government sought its approval to lease the Town Centre Mall – which is partially owned by then Cabinet minister Brent Symonette – for the relocation of the General Post Office.
The October 2018 resolution stated that Symonette had no involvement in the discussions on the lease decision, but Symonette revealed earlier this year that he and the prime minister had discussed the matter directly, including how much the rent will be.
Earlier in the day, the governing side amended the resolution. It became a vote of confidence in the prime minister, which MPs passed late Wednesday night.
As the debate wrapped up, Moultrie said that Davis would not be allowed to conclude the debate, which he had initially started.
“…He clearly violated House rules when he allowed the FNM members of Parliament to make material changes to the resolution,” Davis said.
“What the speaker allowed to take place was not amending the resolution, but repealing what we laid before the House because they were attempting to find a way to avoid answering the serious charges leveled at the prime minister and at least one member of his Cabinet.”
Davis added, “This debacle is a direct result of the conduct of the speaker who was elected to protect the rights of the House minority and enforce the House rules, but instead decided to abuse his powers to silence the parliamentary opposition for pure and naked political reasons.”