The Motion of No Confidence Bill, 2019, provides for the period within which a question of no confidence must be addressed by the National Assembly and for related matters. It states that where a question of no confidence in the Government is brought before the National Assembly, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the National Assembly Elections Act, the question of no confidence shall be determined by Resolution of the National Assembly within a period not exceeding twenty one days.
The tabling of this landmark Bill represents yet another example of the good governance agenda that is vigorously pursued by the Team Unity Government.
Nationals of St. Kitts and Nevis would recall that on December 11, 2012, then-Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Mark Brantley, lodged with the Clerk of the National Assembly a Motion of No Confidence in the Denzil Douglas-led administration.
For about two years, the Honourable Brantley and his Team Unity colleagues requested that the Motion be placed on the Order Paper so that it could be debated in the Parliament. Those requests went unheeded and ignored by then-Speaker of the House, the Honourable Curtis Martin, despite numerous calls from several civic-minded organizations, such as the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the St. Kitts Christian Council, the St. Kitts Evangelical Association and the St. Kitts and Nevis Hotel and Tourism Association, for an urgent hearing of the Motion.
Ultimately, the Opposition members sought the intervention of the court, and the “Motion of No Confidence cases” of Dr. Hon. Timothy Harris vs. Hon. Curtis Martin, et al. and Hon. Mark Brantley, et al. vs. Hon. Curtis Martin, et al. were filed.
On November 7, 2017, Her Ladyship the Honourable Justice Pearletta Lanns, handed down her decision on the matter, in which she comprehensively ruled in favour of the claimants. Her Ladyship granted six reliefs consisting of five declarations along with an order for the defendants to pay costs to the claimants due to her finding that, “Where, as in this case, the Speaker failed to facilitate the process by listing the motion for debate, and vote, then he is in violation of the rights conferred by section 52(6) of the Constitution of Saint Christopher and Nevis…”
Though the court’s ruling was handed down some two years after the Team Unity coalition had secured a resounding victory at the polls on February 16, 2015, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris stated then that a definitive ruling on this matter was still of significant importance, particularly as it relates to democracy and how a Parliament should function.
In a true demonstration of good governance, current Speaker of the St. Kitts-Nevis National Assembly, the Honourable A. Michael Perkins gave priority to a Motion of No Confidence filed against the Team Unity Government of Prime Minister Harris by the Leader of the Opposition.
The motion, which was overwhelmingly defeated in the National Assembly, was filed on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 with the Clerk of the National Assembly and was debated and voted on less than two weeks later on December 24, 2018.