Attorney General Nisbett gives reasons for increase in number of senators in the National Assembly

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JANUARY 15TH 2013 (CUOPM) – Legislation seeking to increase the number of senators in the St. Kitts and Nevis National assembly from the current number of three to six is in keeping with the trends in modern government.

“The business of a modern government has become more sophisticated because of the social, political, technological and other developments which are taking place globally. In other words, Mr. Speaker, a modern government today is such a complex business, much of which business requires or demands legislation, and for that reason we are constantly being called upon to make new laws which are very sophisticated. And so this, in the main, makes modern legislation to be a complex and peculiar branch of business,” said Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Hon. Patrice Nisbett.

The Nevisian-born Attorney General, who was also appearing as Leader of Government Business in the lawmaking body said the complexity of running government business today inevitably requires additional human resources.

“Mr. Speaker, because of what I have just stated, it is really necessary to improve on the complexion of our Parliament by introducing in the House new blood, and, Mr. Speaker, this initiative is intended to give us an opportunity to revisit, for instance the issue of gender balance, if we are to fulfill our national and international obligations in that regard. In essence, Mr. Speaker, we want to ensure that the contributions made in this House benefit generally from the views of the entire community,” he submitted.

He also pointed out that the framers of the 1983 Constitution saw it prudent to have such a provision in the Constitution to allow for the appointment of non-elected members of Parliament basically to provide alternative non-partisan views in the National Assembly.

He further submitted that the framers of the Constitution realized that the Federation’s political system should be strengthened by appointing a few non – partisan people recognized in certain professions or who possess special knowledge and could represent the various groups in society.

“This, Mr. Speaker, is intended to encourage greater participation from the general public, and to contribute to good governance supported by more constructive dissent and alternative views. Mr. Speaker, the different expertise which such people bring to the parliamentary process would certainly enhance the democratic process of our Federation. In other words, Mr. Speaker, the issue being addressed by this Bill is how do we deal with the question of running complex government business,” the Attorney General Assembly.

Mr. Nisbett also pointed out that the framers of the Constitution contemplated that as Government business became more complex it would be necessary to have additional human resources with special expertise and knowledge etc, which meant that the number of Senators would inevitably be increased.

He pointed out that since the current Parliament started its business in 2010, it has not been possible to fill the post of Deputy Speaker.

“Such a situation, Mr. Speaker, has given rise to a concern as to whether Parliament is properly constituted when the post of Deputy Speaker is vacant. Also, Mr. Speaker, the absence of a Deputy Speaker puts much strain on the shoulders of the Speaker. So, Mr. Speaker, I believe that this is now the time to give effect to the provisions of section 26. (2) of our Constitution so that we can deal with the kind of challenges that we are facing in an appropriate manner,” in commending the Bill to safe passage.

He said what the National Assembly was doing is something which is apparently globally shared and referred to similar situations in the United Kingdom, Uganda and Singapore.

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