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Scott on ‘tactics’ of censure motion delay

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Former Premier Alex Scott (File photo)

Former Premier Alex Scott believes that the motion to censure House of Assembly Speaker Randy Horton is already doing a tactical job “just by sitting there”.

Progressive Labour Party leader Marc Bean told The Royal Gazette this week that he was purposely delaying the motion against his party colleague, which he described as a “thunderstorm” hanging over the House.

Mr Horton upset many in his party by accepting the Speaker role, effectively costing the PLP a vote in the House, shortly after the One Bermuda Alliance won the 2012 General Election.

Mr Bean has suggested the lingering threat of censure hanging over Mr Horton was causing anxiety for the OBA.

Mr Scott, the PLP leader and Premier from 2003 to 2006, yesterday offered some thoughts on the tactics behind Mr Bean’s move.

“When the Opposition is, by definition, the minority in Parliament, the more serious they feel an issue is, the more technical they may become,” Mr Scott said.

“Because their benches are smaller, they may choose a moment when the Government has insufficient or equal numbers, so that they stand the best chance of bringing the full weight of their motion to fruition.

“I am not aware of the details and tactics of the Opposition, so the observation I make speaks to why an issue may lay on the order paper.”

Mr Scott said that “as opposed to being neglectful” to let the motion be delayed, it may be a very tactical move.

“This is the Westminster system — it is trying to bring your motion to the fore at the best possible time,” he added. “All things considered, the Speaker is probably going ahead with limited or little concern about the motion.

“But the fact that it sits there and the Opposition seems to be considering a propitious moment to bring it may get the Speaker’s attention, and equally may occupy the attention of Government benches, and thereby the motion becomes partially successful just by sitting there.”

Mr Bean’s motion, brought to the House in March, claims Mr Horton breached parliamentary procedure by refusing to hear a point of order and a point of privilege by the Shadow Finance Minister, David Burt.

Mr Scott said it was not unusual for a motion to be kept back over Government business. “Without speaking to the merit or demerit of the issue itself, I will observe that, on occasion, matters can lay on the order paper for the duration of the session. It is not a unique thing necessarily,” he said.

Some have said the clash between veteran MP Mr Horton and Mr Bean was reflective of a split in the party on age lines.

Mr Scott said: “There is always a generational dimension to political parties. The old order passes away but the new members generally are very respectful.

“It is the nature of change and evolution that the current and new members try on things for size, learn how to manage Parliament and Parliamentary rules and seek, from time to time, advice from those who have been there previously.

“It is like a child leaving home — he or she does not always return to seek parental approval or advice.

“There comes a moment in time when they feel we can stand down.”

Marc Bean