Attorney General Faris Al- Rawi is winding up debate on the controversial Explain Your Wealth Bill in Parliament tomorrow, with the Opposition looking to the final Committee stage to have their say since their last planned speaker didn’t get to speak last Friday.
UNC MP Dr Fuad Khan said he’d been scheduled to speak in last Friday’s debate of the bill, but the AG was called upon to wind up the bill and Khan didn’t get an opportunity. The bill (Civil Asset Recovery and Management and Unexplained Wealth Bill) elicited strong debate when Al- Rawi presented it last Friday. It requires only Government votes for passage.
After UNC whip David Lee concluded his contribution to the debate, Khan said he was the Opposition’s next scheduled speaker but as he rose, the House Speaker called on the Attorney General to wind up.
Khan, a former Deputy Speaker, said he’d learned precedent was that one had to look on both sides— to see if anyone else had to speak— before seeking wind up of a debate.
“Previous Speakers taught me, the Opposition must have its say since the Government will have its way,” But the Speaker’s decision is always final and we abide by that. We’ll likely have to use the Committee stage to get our points in. But it may prolong that stage. Also one has to stick to the clauses involved and the Government which has the numbers is under no obligation to accept our points there,”
Government’s House of Representatives leader Camille Robinson- Regis told the T&T Guardian yesterday, “We don’t determine who the Speaker calls nor do we give her a list of our speakers, nor is it a one/one, Government/Opposition procedure. The system’s a free-flowing one. It’s based on whoever catches the Speaker’s eye, speaks in the debate,”
“If she called on the Attorney General, obviously the AG caught her eye and if her eye wasn’t caught by the Opposition, they may have hesitated. But they have full opportunity to deal with the bill in the Committee stage.”
- by Gail Alexander