Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie yesterday fired back at the opposition’s claims that he abused his power and abused the rules of the House in an attempt “to silence the parliamentary opposition for pure and naked political reasons”.
“It is inappropriate, first of all, for any member who may be aggrieved by any decision of the chair or of a judge to seek to raise red herrings in the media or the press and to challenge that decision when the rules of procedure provides the procedure for any aggrieved member to follow,” Moultrie said from the speaker’s chair.
The speaker was responding to opposition leader Philip Brave Davis, who said in a press conference over the weekend that the speaker abused his power when he denied him the opportunity to wrap up the debate on a motion of no confidence on December 11, 2019.
Earlier in the day, the governing side amended the resolution, changing it into a vote of confidence in the prime minister, which the 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.
Moultrie insisted his ruling was in accordance with the Rule 30(9) of the Rules of Procedure of the House of Assembly, adopted in 2005.
“It’s very clear that other than on a motion of censure or no confidence or which it is critical of government or an officer in the service of government or a public corporation, the final reply of the mover of the original question closes the debate,” he said.
“That rule is very clear that other than those two motions, the mover has the right to close the debate, but in this particular instance on December 11, we were dealing with censure and a motion of no confidence, which does not give the mover the right to close the debate.”
The no-confidence vote 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 Center 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 would be.