Debate on Bill to increase senators will proceed,

Photo: St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas (Photo by Erasmus Williams)


The Government has no intention of withdrawing The Senators (Increasing of Number), Bill, now being debated in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly.

He was at the time responding to several questions from well known opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM) activist Mrs. Silvine Henry during Tuesday’s edition of "Ask the Prime Minister."

"You are saying that the issue in Cabinet is receiving strong resistance. But tell me what is strong resistance is? You have a Cabinet of nine people, each highly educated, each able to stand on his own two feet, each having the respect for each other in a Cabinet, each adhering to basic doctrine of the collective responsibility of Cabinet members, each of them understands that a policy matter comes up; the majority of nine who are seven are saying, we need to get this done, the reasons are solid and sounds.

"Two members (Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Sam Condor and Senior Minister Dr. The Rt. Hon. Timothy Harris), have the right to object. Nobody is saying that they don’t have the right to object; they have the right to object, but when we look at the reasons that are being given, and you continue to insists that this is my position and the Cabinet of the majority are saying, ‘well this is what exactly we would want to have done’, then of course you must give way.

What weak and strong you are talking about? Where weak and strong come in? After all everybody is educated, every man has his own position, he understands it; but if you choose to go against the wishes and the fancy of your own colleagues, then of course what do you expect us to do? You can’t be wrong and strong; so therefore you have to go. The person if he is not going to comply with what the majority of his own colleagues would wish to have, then you do the decent thing. I don’t see the need for any arguments," said Prime Minister Douglas.

"You want us to withdraw it (the Bill) and then next two weeks, next two months another Bill comes in the Parliament, to maybe reduce taxes or do something that they don’t like; another two (it doesn’t have to be these two) don’t like, next thing they say ‘well we don’t support it’ so you can’t go to Parliament with it because two months ago we had two members who didn’t support it. That is confusion. It doesn’t work like that. The decent thing to do, when you are pursuing this doctrine is to resign. Nobody is forcing you to resign. You do what is the decent thing to do and if you refuse to resign and you want to therefore prevent the Government from functioning, the Government must function, the Government has a mandate; so I really don’t understand why the caller is saying that the best thing to do is to withdraw it."

"Why should we withdraw it? It is a fundamental principle in which every Government or cabinet system sits on so why should we withdraw it? If it was something that of course you can simply say well let us find a way around it. But here is a situation where the reason that is being given is not the real reason and on the 29th in Parliament, I will tell the people what the real reason is. I will do exactly that. I will tell the people what the real reason is," Prime Minister Douglas told opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM) activist, Mrs. Silvine Henry who called into the weekly radio programme "Ask the Prime Minister" on Tuesday.

"It has nothing to do with the increase of wage bill in the Parliament. Nothing like that. We have overcome problems like that in the past. The same members were saying a year ago that this is what we should do, but because they believe that it is not the appropriate time to do certain things that is why it is being done. Nobody could fool us and nobody must fool the people of St. Kitts and Nevis," Dr. Douglas reiterated.

"The caller is saying that we should withdraw it because the majority of population is not in support. What Nonsense is that? Who did the Poll? You think we are going to listen to people of Operation Rescue to run this Government for us?" asked Prime Minister Douglas.

"We have each been elected and nominated to run this Government on behalf of the people. As far as I know, no poll has been conducted and it is not the drama and theatrics that speaks to it," said the Prime Minister, who reiterated to Mrs. Henry and listeners that "it is a fundamental principle on which people elected us to serve in a government and so this nonsense about the majority of the people are not in favour of it. Why are the majority of the people not in favour of it? And who has tested? So caller you can’t impose your own will and fancy unto people’s own thinking in this regard.

Will the Bill continue? The Bill must continue. The Bill is in the Parliament already," said the Prime Minister.

He stated clearly that his Government has a legislative agenda that goes to the Parliament. "All of the players who are a part of the Administration of the Parliament will come in play in determining where things fall on the agenda," he said.

Referring to previous public comments last December pertaining to the proposed Motion of No Confidence, Dr. Douglas reiterated: "The Vote of No Confidence is in a Parliamentary Democracy. It has to be heard, but it cannot be heard and everything else drop beside it. It does not work like that. The budget session was already announced before the (proposed) Vote of No Confidence motion was placed and I am certain that it will find its rightful place on the legislative agenda at the right time."

"There should be no fear that someone is going to try not to have this matter brought to Parliament. The matter has to be brought to the Parliament; there are procedures and processes to be followed, for it to be brought to the Parliament. Those who wish it to be heard in Parliament must bring it to the Parliament and then it will be heard."