Members of Cayman’s ruling government will not agree to attend an emergency meeting of the Legislative Assembly set for next week to debate two legislative motions related to the management and effectiveness of local law enforcement, Premier Alden McLaughlin said Wednesday.
Mr. McLaughlin said the government has already agreed to hear the two private members’ motions, filed by Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush and East End MLA Arden McLean, when the House resumes meeting on April 25. He said Wednesday that there is no need to hold an emergency meeting to debate those two specific issues a mere 12 days earlier.
“Government is not going to agree to the meeting,” the premier said. “We will not provide the necessary quorum [required number of House members]. The opposition is simply trying to be disruptive.”
All business conducted in the Legislative Assembly must comply with sections 74 and 75 of the Constitution Order, 2009. Those sections seek to establish how a quorum, the minimum number of elected members present, must be maintained. A quorum of an 18-member Legislative Assembly is 10 members. The 10-person quorum does not include the Speaker of the House.
Section 74 basically states that if a quorum is not present during a meeting and any member of the House objects to that, the Speaker should adjourn the assembly after a certain period of time if a quorum is not achieved.
Mr. McLaughlin has suggested that if all eight opposition party and independent opposition members show up for the April 13 emergency meeting, it would require just one member of the government side to attend and object to the meeting’s occurrence without the required 10-person quorum.
“The opposition motions will be dealt with when the House convenes for the meeting beginning April 25,” he said.
The resolution section of the motion seeking a “lack of confidence” vote in the police management states, in part: “The Legislative Assembly does declare a lack of confidence in the RCIPS and the governance of the RCIPS and ask[s] the governor to appoint an independent team to review the police methodology of administration and to identify a Caymanian to lead the RCIPS.”
A separate private members’ motion filed by Opposition Leader Bush seeking an independent review of the police response to a recent report of five missing boaters near 12 Mile Bank was also proposed to be debated during the emergency meeting. Governor Helen Kilpatrick has already agreed to commission such an inquiry.
Both opposition Cayman Islands Democratic Party members and independents said this week that, as far as they were concerned, the April 13 meeting was still going ahead. The Legislative Assembly clerk’s office also confirmed that the meeting was still scheduled.
“I think he’s going down a very, very dangerous road,” Mr. Bush said of the premier.
“When eight members or seven member call [a meeting], the Speaker of the House must set a time and when the Speaker sets a time the House members are duty bound to attend. If they’re not, they’re in dereliction of their duty and they’re … abrogating the rules of the Legislative Assembly.
“It’s going to affect this country negatively, what he’s doing. That’s the worst kind of politics that he’s playing.”
Also, Mr. Bush points out that current Legislative Assembly standing orders only require eight members to hold a House meeting. “We’ve been operating at most times with eight members and then other people come in after the start,” he said.
Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo, who also supported the “lack of confidence” motion in the police management and administration, said he would be disappointed if the government members simply did not show up next week.
“There are times when I haven’t wanted to show up [at legislative meetings], but I did because that’s what we were elected for,” Mr. Suckoo said.