Friday, November 30 2007
PRIME MINISTER Patrick Manning yesterday said while Government has until March 28, 2008 to convene the Ninth Parliament, it will do so “well before that.”
Addressing the first post-Cabinet news conference at Whitehall since the November 5 General Election, Manning said, “At next week’s Cabinet meeting (December 6) we will identify a date at which Parliament will be convened.”
After revealing that the convening of Parliament was discussed at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Manning explained under Section 67 (1) of the Constitution: “There is a six month hiatus maximum that must exist between the sittings of the Parliament by law. But of course, the Government proposes to convene Parliament well before that.” Parliament was dissolved on September 28 when Manning announced November 5 as the General Election date.
Constitutional experts such as former President Sir Ellis Clarke and former Police Service Commission chairman Kenneth Lalla SC said Manning has not erred, constitutionally, by not convening Parliament to date despite criticisms from the Opposition UNC Alliance.
The Prime Minister said the Government did not want to convene Parliament without any business to conduct. “At next week’s Cabinet meeting, we will see what legislation is available, legislation that may have lapsed from the last Parliament. We will identify a series of priorities for consideration in both Houses of Parliament (Senate and the House of Representatives) so that we will start the Parliament with an agenda.”
Sources said it is possible that Parliament may be convened in mid-December and Manning would not wait until January.
Ah will allow the ole fockin silver fox to respond to this one:
Leader of the Opposition
Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago
People's Parliamentary Agenda…
Mr Manning has prolonged the opening of Parliament for an unacceptable length of time while he went on a holiday in Uganda. He now returns to say that Parliament cannot open yet because there is no Parliamentary Agenda.
On what basis did the PNM campaign in the last election? Their Manifesto and platform promises should have been the basis of their agenda as a government? So it is unacceptable that they now claim not to have an agenda.
If Budget 2007-08 is themed "Continuing the Transformation", then whatever was not done in the last term should be continued now.
There are several important pieces of legislation that lapsed because the PNM did not give them priority last time around. There is the Equal Opportunities Bill and the package of Children's Legislation. That is enough to start the Parliament especially when the government has nothing else on its plate.
Further, there are pressing issues such as crime, high food prices, the health care system and education system which need urgent attention. So there is more than enough work for the members of parliament to do.
The problem is that the PNM is on a honeymoon and they are feting for Christmas and they do not care what happens to the people.
The Opposition demands that the Prime Minister waste no more time and summon the Parliament. If they do not have a Parliamentary Agenda, we the Opposition have one and the citizens have one.
Hon Basdeo Panday
Leader of the Opposition, MP Couva North
Friday, November 30, 2007.