NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie yesterday provided the government with an ultimatum to address long-standing concerns over conditions at his office building.
“I note that during, first of all, the contribution of the member for Killarney, that the member for Killarney made a reference to the temporary relocation of the Cabinet Office based on the fact that it was discovered that the Cabinet Office has a leaky roof,” Moultrie said.
“Now, on the 30th of September, the speaker brought to the attention of this Parliament that there was no running water in the speaker’s office, no bathroom facility, mold, a leaking roof, and an office that was deemed a security risk by the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
“But I did not hear any initiative or plan set to correct that situation for the legislative branch of the government. Now, I am of the view that a man should not ever respect any other man above himself. And so, since God is not a respecter of person, I cannot sit here idly by as the presiding officer of this Parliament and accept such a circumstance.
“So, in the circumstances, this is the position of this speaker. On the 31 of October 2020, the speaker will turn in the keys for the speaker’s office because this speaker will not be utilizing that office in the condition that it is in after the 31st of October.”
He continued: “If it is the desire of the majority, the Parliament can be prorogued and a vote of no confidence can be brought in this speaker and remove this speaker from this chair because this speaker believes in the separation of powers and that this Parliament should be functioning as the first arm of government.”
Eyewitness News visited Moultrie’s office in a shared two-storey building adjacent to the House of Assembly.
The ceiling at the entrance of the office showed visible signs of a leak.
The leather chairs lined in the lobby area had a thick layer of mold.
Addressing Parliament, Moultrie took exception to a bill tabled for the Court Services Act, while a bill drafted for the Parliamentary Services Act was drafted in 2018 and remains unaddressed.
“I interpret this as a complete insult to the legislative branch of the government that the Parliament is being asked to move, to make the judiciary an independent arm of the government and no effort has been made on behalf of the legislative branch to make the legislative branch an autonomous and independent branch of this government,” Moultrie said.
“And so, as far as I am concerned, I don’t need to be a part of any institution that would be prepared to move in the breach of the constitution. The constitution calls specifically for the executive branch to be responsible to the legislative branch.”
Moultrie indicated successive governments have encroached on the separation of powers, but the time had come for change.
The speaker added he has no intention of resigning and will “fight for the right of the legislative branch’s independence and autonomy”.