Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush said Wednesday that the Legislative Assembly department is ‘filled with politics’ and questioned why People’s Progressive Movement member Edna Moyle is still Speaker of the House.
‘I am concerned about the present situation in that department,’ he said. ‘There’s too much politics being played there. I’m concerned about protection of the minority [party].’
Efforts to get comments on Mr. Bush’s remarks from Mr. Tibbetts were unsuccessful by press time.
Mr. Bush pointed out that Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said after the election that Mrs. Moyle would only be Speaker of the Legislative Assembly on a interim basis, which was originally supposed to be for a maximum 18 months.
As of tomorrow, Mrs. Moyle will have been Speaker for exactly 18 months.
After the last general election in May 2005, Mr. Tibbetts said it was critical to have an experienced Speaker during the constitutional modernisation process.
At the time, Mr. Tibbetts said the United Kingdom Government wanted to see the constitutional modernisation process completed within 12 to 18 months.
Subsequently, Mr. Tibbetts said there was a misunderstanding about the timetable, and no other timetable for constitutional modernisation has been given to date.
As a result, there has been no timetable for Mrs. Moyle to demit the office of Speaker.
The modernised constitution was to create two new Cabinet posts, one of which Mrs. Moyle was slated to assume, Mr. Tibbetts said after the election.
There was criticism at the time that Mrs. Moyle assumed the role of Speaker because the move went against PPM ideology. Mrs. Moyle even acknowledged in the Legislative Assembly that the PPM had made a campaign issue out of the idea that a modernised constitution should require the Speaker come from outside of the Legislative Assembly.
In any case, Mrs. Moyle promised to protect the rights of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly.
‘The duty of the Speaker is to protect the rights of the minority,’ she said at the time.
Mr. Bush, however, disagrees that that has happened.
‘I do not feel the minority is being protected,’ he said. ‘There is far too much connection with [Mrs. Moyle] and her party. This should not be.’
Mr. Bush said the PPM made ‘a big fuss’ about the issue prior to the election.
‘They wanted an outside speaker and they even wanted a referendum on that,’ he said.
Mr. Bush said he does not see where the PPM is moving in a direction to modernise the constitution in a way that Mrs. Moyle would step down from the Speaker’s position.
‘No, I think they’re entrenching her even more,’ he said. ‘They’re trying to satisfy her by doing certain things.’
Mr. Bush believes the recent motion passed in the Legislative Assembly to begin a process of making the department autonomous from Government is evidence of his suspicions.
As for that plan, Mr. Bush is adamant that it cannot be done.
‘This hinges on administrative responsibility, which we do not have because it’s a constitutional provision,’ he said. ‘It just can’t be done.
Mr. Bush said only the governor has constitutional responsibility.
‘And it cannot be delegated,’ he said.
Mr. Bush criticised the PPM for not addressing the constitutional modernisation process as a whole.
‘The PPM is trying to get bits and pieces of constitutional authority,’ he said.
Mr. Bush said he intended to write the Governor, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Foreign Commonwealth Office to voice his objections to the proposal.