The Chief Minister made a mistake in his Ministerial Statement during the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill debate and he has a duty to Parliament and the public record to correct himself. In that statement he was critical of the right of Parliament to properly scrutinise the Bill by deferring the Committee stage.
The Chief Minister stated that in the 16 years that he had been a member of the House he had never seen any member exercise his or her right to delay a Bill passing its stages by a day.
The Hon Roy Clinton MP who sits on the Select Committee for Parliamentary Reform has today written to the Chief Minister with evidence of extracts of Hansard and invited him to correct his statement.
Mr Clinton said:
“The Chief Minister in making a Ministerial Statement has to ensure its accuracy and I have today written to him with the evidence that (as was pointed out) a deferral of the committee stage was in fact requested on the debate on the Gibraltar Consultative Council Bill 2016 on 27 October 2016. I have invited him to correct his statement at the next meeting of the House as I am sure it was simply a lapse of memory.
On the question of deferral I would remind the Chief Minister that that right has always existed under Standing Orders and in fact the Commission on Democratic and Political Reform went further in its recommendation 7 by suggesting that Bills of a certain size and complexity should undergo an in-depth legislative scrutiny by referral to a Public Bills Committee. This recommendation would result in a process much longer than a day if not several days or weeks.
The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill was without doubt a complex piece of legislation and more scrutiny was warranted rather than less. The UK Parliament has had a lengthy debate on the issues with supporting analysis and yet our Parliament was only offered a one hour presentation by the Attorney General a mere 48 hours before the Bill was to be read; hardly an in-depth legislative scrutiny. No mention was made at that briefing, which had in fact been requested by the Opposition, of the potential consequences of delaying the Bill by a day.
The Chief Minister has only himself to blame for bringing the Bill so late and not explaining the reasons for urgency beforehand. His evident anger that Parliament did not just rubber stamp the Bill upon request shows the Chief Minister has little time or respect for the Parliamentary process. I trust he will correct his statement at the next meeting of Parliament.”