No parliamentary questions ready admits premier

| 25/11/2010

(CNS): Government’s failure to answer opposition and independent members’ questions was the first issued raised on what turned out to be a heated session of the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday as it resumed its business. Alden McLaughlin asked why it was that there were no questions listed on the day’s order paper to be answered by the government. The George Town MLA pointed out that between them the members on the opposition benches had some 14 questions listed for the current sitting but government had only answered five of them. He reminded the House that it was through questions to government that the opposition primarily fulfilled its proper function.

The premier said that there were no questions listed because the answers were not ready and as the opposition member knew it took a lot of work and research to answer parliamentary questions and the civil servants were still doing that research.

The George Town MLA pointed out, however, that the questions had been submitted more than a month ago and he was concerned that again the questions would not be answered publicly on the floor of the Legislative Assembly within the current sitting. This, he said, would mean the ministers would be answering in writing after the House adjourned and not in the parliamentary forum as they should be.

When ministers fail to answer a member’s question publicly in the Legislative Assembly during a sitting, the Standing Orders require them to write to the minister with the answer. This means the questioner cannot ask supplementary questions and that the answers are not in the public domain unless they are released by either the minister or the poser of the question. Given the rules of parliament, the opposition is limited in how it can act as a check and balance on government and the questions are one method they can use to raise the concerns of their constituents.

McLaughlin pointed out that the vast majority of questions asked by the opposition in the last sitting were not answered on the floor of the Legislative Assembly and he was concerned the same thing would happen again.

“Only five of the fourteen questions have yet been answered … and it is likely a significant number of them will go unanswered yet again,” McLaughlin said, adding that there should be a sense of urgency in having questions answered. “The questions allow the opposition to function properly … otherwise the opposition and the country is at a disadvantage.”

The premier said that the questions had to be researched properly and that they would be answered. He denied that government was trying to avoid answering the questions but said the research had to be done. He said that if the questions were not answered the opposition could re-submit.

Arden McLean pointed out that he had attempted to do this with questions from the previous sitting but the Legislative Assembly staff had prevented him from doing so, saying he must wait three months before a question can be resubmitted.

“All I am trying to do is get answers from government but I haven’t got them yet,” the member for East End said.

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  1. Just Laughin' says:

    Wake up people! This is not about political posturing. The civil servants involved are dissing Mac by dragging their feet.They are purposely making him look bad.

    This story aptly illustrates just how impotent a leader Mac really is. For all his growling and barking in the LA and other public and political venues, Mac is so powerless that he can not get his people to submit government accounts that were due years ago.  He is still making lame excuses as to why and the departments in question are pretty much ignoring him with impunity. "Accounts soon come". He should be embarrassed. I know I would be.

    Now the best Mac can do is come up with lame excuses while civil servants are again dragging their feet regarding his request for answers to parliamentary questions.Too funny.

    Some leader he is. Plenty excuses, little action. Why bother re-electing him? Want more excuses or you just like to waste a perfectly good vote?

  2. Anonymous says:

    For what it’s worth I think that we have 2 good potential leaders of opposition. One with a degree in law and one who is willing to fight anyone for his own people almost litterally. And let’s not forget Mr. Moses a  smart businessman and Mr. Eden a gentlemen that has common sense. Now PPM if you stand a chance at the next election and not repeat the same mistakes as this Gvt, without undoing the good things( got to be some somewhere il’l have to think alikkle more) to NEED to start playing as a Team. Yo’ll need a good coach, trainers, everybody counts. Too much is being placed on WHO is going to be the next Leader and not enough on the Party. Start your manifesto from now, remember Strategy first. WE the people once we see that your’re getting your ship in order you will be surprised at the support. Do it from tour Heart, do it for your Country, Enough Said.

  3. EyesWideOpen says:

    "All I’m doing is trying to get answers from government", says Ardem McLean.

    Well Arden, you may have now noticed that if you ask too many questions (especially those that d’mac does NOT have the knowledge to answer), he will make the biggest ruckas,  start a row, point to every fault that he can blame on PPM, start accusing you of bullying him, make a scene in order for his "puppet" speaker to ask you to leave the LA.

    My advie to you is:-  KEEP ON asking INTELLIGENT questions!!!  He won’t have a clue on how to answer them!!

    Remember he once said, "you don’t need a education – all you need is common sense".

    We both know that common sense is the profound thought process, reaction and result to a good education!!

    Now what does this tell you about asking and answering questions!!??

  4. Anonymous says:

    what a shambles……. i know the governor won’t do anything…so I ask again for the uk to do something…….

    • Anonymous says:

      cns: is there a way we can petition the governor or maybe a poll can be set up asking if you think the governor is fulfilling his role in relation to maintaining good governance?

      CNS: Yes, I can do a poll. Keep an eye out for it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps the Opposition could re-phrase the parliamentary questions as FOI requests. That way Mac and his cronies could ignore them twice.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The government is once again showing its complete lack of respect for the people and for democracy. Nothing will improve until Mac and the very stale "fries" are gone.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It is a good thing that the opposition is supplying the questions as otherwise Mac and his bunch of clowns wouldn’t know either the questions or the answers.  

    • Anonymous says:

      You poor ppm people. please stop wining and let the PREMIER AND GOVERNMENT DO THEIR JOB.