MOTION OF NO CONFIDENCE BILL, 2019 TO PREVENT THE STIFLING OF PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY IN ST. KITTS AND NEVIS

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, September 17, 2019 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Never again will a Motion of No Confidence in any government be stymied from Parliamentary debate for an extended period of time.

That is what the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is seeking to ensure with the moving of the Motion of No Confidence Bill, 2019, in the National Assembly, today, Tuesday, September 17.

The Bill states that where a question of no confidence in the Government is brought before the National Assembly, the question of no confidence shall be determined by Resolution of the National Assembly within a period not exceeding twenty one days.

Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris noted that the moving of this landmark piece of legislation is in keeping with the Team Unity administration’s commitment to the good governance agenda in St. Kitts and Nevis.

“This Bill, Mr. Speaker, came notwithstanding the established tradition everywhere that when a Motion of No Confidence is tabled that it should be given utmost priority above every other bit of legislation before the House because it tests the confidence and the validity of the government to continue to perform,” Prime Harris said as he led the debate on the Bill.

The need for such legislation arose after the December 11, 2012 filing of a Motion of No Confidence in the Denzil Douglas-led administration by then-Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Mark Brantley, lodged with the Clerk of the National Assembly, went undebated for an unprecedented period of 26 months.

“Democracy then was under threat,” the prime minister added. “We have come to keep the faith with the people of St. Kitts and Nevis and to ensure that never again the creeping dictatorship of the past, the oppressive dictatorship led by the Douglas regime will never again have the opportunity to so sully and dirty our parliamentary life that we become a pariah country in practice of parliamentary democracy.”

Prime Minister Harris stated that the former Denzil Douglas administration only needed to look at examples of countries in the Caribbean region as to how Motions of No Confidence should be treated.

Dr. Harris said, “The Douglas-administration, if it was minded to, could have looked at Trinidad and Tobago where Kamla Persad-Bissessar faced Motions of No Confidence and had them debated and they would have seen other instances of how it was dealt with. They could have looked to Jamaica and somebody would tell them that when a Motion of No Confidence comes it is given priority because there must never be the shadow of illegitimacy over a sitting government in a parliamentary democracy.”

In stark contrast and in a show of good governance, Prime Minister Harris observed that when a Motion of No Confidence in the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis brought by the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Denzil Douglas, was filed “frivolous and vexatious as it was, we let it be heard in seven days.”

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