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Government silent on new Bills to be tabled in House

Still in session: MPs will return to the House of Assembly for two sittings next month (File photograph)

The Government has failed to provide details of Bills that will be tabled during two “unusual” sittings of the House of Assembly next month.

MPs will be recalled to Parliament in the middle of their summer break to attend the two sittings on September 15 and 29.

Traditionally Parliament closes for the summer at the end of July, just ahead of the Cup Match holiday.

A new legislative calendar then starts at the beginning of November with the official opening of Parliament and the reading of the Throne Speech, in which the Government outlines its aims and objectives for the year ahead.

But at the conclusion of the last parliamentary sitting on July 21, the ruling Progressive Labour Party announced that the House will resume on September 15, and that a second sitting will be held two weeks later.

Parliament will then close for October and reconvene in early November.

Asked why the two extra sessions were required, a government spokeswoman said: “These sittings will be to consider those matters tabled on July 21 and September 15.

“Additionally, the Senate will sit thereafter to consider those matters passed by the House.

“The legislature will convene in November with a Speech from the Throne.”

Asked to provide details of any new Bills that are expected to be tabled, the spokeswoman said that there was nothing more to add to the earlier statement.

She said that when the House rose at the end of the last sitting, it was resolved to sit again on September 15 “without objection”.

She added: “Those items to be tabled on September 15 will be debated on September 29.”

The PLP failed to respond to requests for further information.

Neville Tyrrell, the Government Whip, did respond, but only to say that he was off island and will not be meeting with the party caucus until next week.

There are two Bills that were given their first reading during the last sitting on July 21 — the Motor Car (Classic car) Amendment Bill 2023, and the Distilleries Licensing Act 2023.

Had the Government felt it necessary to get those Bills passed before the summer break, the House could have sat again on July 28. This year the Cup Match holiday was held later than usual, on August 3 and 4.

Last night the One Bermuda Alliance questioned why the sittings were necessary.

Jarion Richardson, the Opposition leader, said: “This parliamentary session includes two unusual sittings, September 15 and September 29.

“Traditionally, the session concludes before Cup Match and a new session starts with the Throne Speech.

“Given in the past this government has sought to alter or eliminate parliamentary norms such as the Throne Speech, the Opposition is keenly aware of any change to parliamentary norms. To this end, we are watching closely the actions of this government.

“This abnormality is especially interesting, given the matters before Parliament do not seem to warrant an abnormal sitting. It’s difficult to see what impact, if any, distilleries and classic cars will have to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, immigration and emigration, or budget deficits.

“It may be that the Government, in its briefing papers as yet unseen by the House of Assembly or Senate, has outlined comprehensive and important feasibility for this legislation. But that has yet to be seen.

“To that end, we will continue to observe the Government’s actions attentively. In this way, we can be sure to bring to the public’s attention when those actions benefit the few over the whole.”

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Published August 31, 2023 at 7:54 am (Updated August 31, 2023 at 7:43 am)

Government silent on new Bills to be tabled in House

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