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Parliament to resume on January 10, says Moonilal

By Ria Taitt Political Editor

Leader of Government Business Roodal Moonilal confirmed yesterday that Parliament would resume after its Christmas break in the second week of January. That would mean the House of Representatives is expected to meet on January 10.
The House is expected to examine and discuss critical pieces of legislation and very significant reports during the coming weeks and months.
When Parliament last adjourned on December 13, the Bail Amendment bill which seeks to establish the “one strike and you’re out” rule for all violent crimes, was being debated. The bill would deny bail to all those charged with violent crimes such as robbery, shooting or wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm, arson, larceny of a motor vehicle, possession of a firearm or ammunition and drug trafficking; rape, offences under the Children Act.
The bill requires the support of at least 26 members of the House of Representatives. Government now has a majority of 27. And since during the month of December, there were a number of Government MPs absent every time the House of Representatives met. This would have handicapped the Government in getting the required majority. Therefore the matter was not put to a vote.
The Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) had indicated they would not support the bill. It is expected the debate on this bill would resume when Government’s numbers are up to full strength.
The House has two important reports to consider—98th Report of the Salary Review Commission (SRC) and the First Report of the Standing Orders Committee.
The SRC Report is expected to be tabled when the House resumes. The report which makes recommendations for the terms and conditions of top office-holders, has to be debated and approved in Parliament before implementation.
The Parliament can alter the recommendations. There are reservations within the Government and Opposition about some of the recommendations. The report has been discussed by the House Committee.
The First Report of the Standing Orders Committee was laid when the House of Representatives last met on December 13. The report makes far-reaching recommendations such as the introduction of a Prime Ministerial question time, the curtailing of the speaking time of each MP from the current maximum of 75 minutes to a maximum of 40 minutes and putting in the Standing Orders clauses which would facilitate the implementation of the Crossing of the Floor Act.
The report also recommends the establishment of new committees such as an Assurances Committee to monitor the implementation of undertakings, promises and assurances given by Ministers to the Parliament; a National Security Committee, an Energy Committee, a Foreign Affairs Committee and a Public Administration and Appropriation Committee.
The Parliament also has to debate the Act to amend the Libel and Defamation Act to abolish malicious defamatory libel. The Amendment would ensure that no journalist can be jailed under Section 9 of the Libel and Defamation Act for the malicious publication of any defamatory libel.
The House also has to debate the act to amend the Judges Salaries and Pensions Act, which would provide for a more favourable computation of the pensions payable to judges, for a period review of the pensions and for the removal of the ten-year prohibition on retired judges returning to private practice.
The House also has the Insurance bill before a Joint Select Committee. This Act is expected to repeal the “outdated” Insurance Act of 1980, the deficiencies of which were shown with the CLICO collapse.
During the rest of this session, Parliament is also expected to see tabled the long-awaited Procurement Bill.
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