by Linda Straker
The Lower House of Parliament on Friday approved a resolution that will provide for the 7 Referendum bills to be carried over in a new session of Parliament, in the event that the current session is prorogued before the Referendum results are ready for presentation to the Governor-General Dame Cécile La Grenade.
Gregory Bowen, Leader of Government Business, presented the Resolution to the House, informing members that the House has found itself in a position where the Parliament may be prorogued before the writ for the referendum is returned to the Governor-General.
The Referendum is scheduled to take place on 24 November, and the writ requires the Office of the Supervisor of Election to return the result of the Writ on or before 13 December 2016.
“What could happen is that based on normal procedure, any bill that is not approved in one session automatically dies when the Parliament is prorogued, and this will mean we have to start all over again, but we have consulted and are guided in moving forward,” said Bowen.
“This motion is to ensure that we carry everything into the next parliament session,” he said.
Reading from the resolution, Bowen said: “In cases of doubt, the Standing Orders of the House shall be interpreted in the light of the relevant practice of the House of Commons of the Parliament of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” he said.
The Resolution further explained that “In any matter for which these Standing Orders do not provide, the said practice referred to in paragraph (i) shall be followed, but no restrictions which the House of Commons has introduced by Standing Orders shall be extended to the House of Representatives or its members until the House has provided by Standing Orders for such restrictions.”
Bowen said that though Government believes the Supervisor of Election will return the Writ in time for the December deadline, there is the real possibility that the Parliament will prorogue before 13 December.
“However, Bowen said that Government needs to get on with the budget because a presentation after 31 December 2016, can have a negative implication for the country — one of which is the possible loss of grant funding from the International Monetary Fund.
“The IMF had indicated that we need to pass the budget in time. It is well known that we will be undertaking our final review for the Homegrown Programme,” Bowen said.
Traditionally, the Houses of Parliament prorogues in July/August, reopens in September or October with a ceremonial session, and then move to present the budget.
The Referendum was initially scheduled for 27 October, and the Budget for 25 November 2016. However, a decision was made to extend the educational awareness period for the Referendum, and this has in turn affected the proroguing of Parliament and the Presentation of the Budget. The Budget is now scheduled to be presented on 9 December 2016.
The referendum Bills are:
1. CONSTITUTION OF GRENADA (CARIBBEAN COURT OF JUSTICE AND OTHER JUSTICE RELATED MATTERS) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016;
2. CONSTITUTION OF GRENADA (ELECTIONS AND BOUNDARIES COMMISSION) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016;
3. CONSTITUTION OF GRENADA (ENSURING THE APPOINTMENT OF LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016;
4. CONSTITUTION OF GRENADA (FIXED DATE FOR ELECTIONS) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016;
5. CONSTITUTION OF GRENADA (NAME OF STATE) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016;
6. CONSTITUTION OF GRENADA (RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016; AND
7. CONSTITUTION OF GRENADA (TERM OF OFFICE OF PRIME MINISTER) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016.