Speaker of the National Assembly Dr. Barton Scotland has upheld a decision by outgoing Chief Justice Ian Chang, who ruled on Friday that Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix and Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Keith Scott, ought not to sit in the National Assembly as technocrats.
The Chief Justice, who was on retirement leave, said the two men cannot sit in the House as Technocrat Members because their names were on the list of candidates for a political party.
Felix and Scott were not in the House when it reconvened on Monday for the continuation of the 2016 estimates of expenditure. The two were non-elected members and therefore had no voting power in the National Assembly. The ruling does not change the majority that the government holds in the Assembly.
The Speaker explained that this was a direct result of the High Court ruling. He said while he was not served a copy of the ruling he is aware of it and believed it should be acted upon.
“I must tell this House that I had determined as of yesterday that the information in papers was sufficiently reliable. The position is therefore that the Speaker will uphold the Court’s decision… acceptance of a decision of the court must be unequivocal at all times,” Dr. Scotland added.
Felix and Scott were selected as Technocrat Ministers and became Members of Parliament for the coalition government following the 2015 General Elections. Attorney General Basil Williams told the Assembly that the government intends too, to obey the court order until it is discharged or set aside.
“We will leave no stone unturned to return our brothers to the House,” he vowed.
Justice Chang’s contention is that while the government is allowed to name technocrat Ministers who will sit in the National Assembly as non-elected members, those persons should not be on the candidates list for the party.
The ruling is the result of a court action filed by PPP member, Desmond Morian. He was represented by former Attorney General and PPP Member of Parliament, Anil Nandall. He believes that with the ruling, the two Ministers should be prevented from sitting in the National Assembly. (Kurt Campbell)