Debate on Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2022

The House of Assembly convened today at the Worthing Corporate Centre in Christ Church for its first full session without an Opposition in place.

While elected Members of Parliament from the Barbados Labour Party which swept the polls, winning all 30 seats in the January 19 general elections, occupied those seats in Parliament, there was no one on the Opposition bench.

The anomaly informed the day’s sitting at which Attorney General Dale Marshall introduced the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2022, which he pointed out was going to be “the first act of the new Parliament”.

The Bill makes better provision for filling a vacancy in the office of the Leader of the Opposition and also alters the Constitution to change the qualifications for membership of the Senate and the House of Assembly.

With no other party contesting the elections winning a seat in Parliament, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley had suggested that the Democratic Labour Party be invited by the President to select two members to sit in the Upper House as Opposition Senators.

Marshall told the House: “We have to find a way to give those individuals who did not win at the polls, a voice in our affairs”.

He argued there must be balance in the House .

“We feel it is important that at this time we take some steps to enshrine the deepening of our democracy,” he said, while also dismissing claims of an attempt by Government to “tinker with the Constitution”.

He contended the current situation could not be left “until we get to the review and consideration of a new Barbados Constitution”.

“We are seeking to amend the Constitution to provide, Mr Speaker, that in any instance where either the President or the Prime Minister or anybody else has a duty in the Constitution to consult or to get advice from the Leader of the Opposition where there is none, you have a duty to go to the opposing party with the highest numbers,” Marshall explained. (GC)

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