Speaker scolds govt. while calling for landmark change

Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie grabbed the bull by its horns Wednesday morning in an attempt to get a handle on the way Parliament operates.

He lamented that successive governments have abused their right within the Lower Chamber and he’d like for there to be some balance.

He called for the establishment of a commission to regulate parliament proceedings.

“The parliament of the commonwealth of The Bahamas is challenged this day to enact law establishing an independent statuary parliamentary service commission. One which has specific administrative and budgetary control for the institution,” said Moultrie.

The speaker also challenged government to consider resizing its cabinet.

He said successive governments have crafted gussimae cabinet’s but encouraged the Minnis led administration to veer from the tradition.

“I recommend that combined, the size of the parliament of the Cabinet – inclusive of parliamentary secretaries – should not exceed a limit of 17 or 43 per cent of the elected members of parliament,” he said.

“As long as the status quo remains it will demonstrate our lack of commitment to the ideals of accountability and transparency.

He also set the stage for party backbenchers to be shown a level of respect as well.

The speaker’s comments came as a surprise to many – Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) leader Philip Davis suggested that there may be trouble in the camp.

“Well obviously something is happening between him and the executive which has rattled his nerves,” said Davis.

Whether something is awry or not, back bencher – Frederick McAlpine, Member of Parliament supported the speaker’s sentiments.

“I think the speech of the speaker was basically telling us that we need to strengthen our democracy,” he said.

“We can’t declare to be democratic but tend to move in an undemocratic fashion.

“He also spoke about strengthening the voice of backbenchers and I think this all bodes well to support exactly what we campaigned on, and that is transparency.”

No response from government as to whether or not the suggestions will be implemented.