Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Davis prorogues Parliament. What exactly does it mean?

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The spotlight was on Parliament on Saturday as Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander read a proclamation from the Governor-General on the advice of Prime Minister Philip Davis, proroguing Parliament until October 4—a move that would kill all tabled questions and unfinished business, and expire all legislation.

The move comes two days after North Abaco MP Kirk Cornish was charged with five counts of rape, assault, and threats of death against a former girlfriend; and the Opposition continues to question Immigration Minister Keith Bell over his issuance of citizenship without due process.

Calls for Cornish and Bell’s resignations have gone unanswered and Davis remains mum over the controversies.

What does it mean to prorogue Parliament?

Proroguing the government means all sessions have ended. The legislature is prorogued by the Governor General, on the advice of the prime minister.

The move kills all bills and no committees are allowed to sit during a prorogation.

Proroguing Parliament can be a standard practice often used by political leaders to cancel existing legislation sitting before the House and set a new government agenda. It can also be used by political leaders to strategically prevent certain businesses from happening.

Has it happened before?

It was used in August 2021 as Former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis called a snap election, amid a spat with House Speaker Halson Moultrie who attempted to hold an “open parliament” in the square, accusing Minnis and his Cabinet of “unconstitutionally” shutting down the Parliament for an “unprecedented period” of time.

Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham reportedly prorogued the House every two years and Former PM Perry Christie prorogued the House in 2006 to reshuffle his Cabinet.

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