The GSD has called on the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, to correct the Ministerial Statement he made in Parliament last week during a protracted debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill.
The GSD insisted that in that statement Mr Picardo 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.
GSD MP Roy Clinton, who sits on the Select Committee for Parliamentary Reform, wrote to Mr Picardo 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,” he explained.
“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 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, Mr Clinton said.
“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.”
But in hitting back Mr Picardo said: “I have replied to Mr Clinton telling him that I have many issues of importance to Gibraltar and to real people to consider.”
“I have told him that the points he made in his letter are the same ones he made during my statement and that therefore the record stands already reflecting his recollection of this position, which illustrates that he had previously been responsible for a non-urgent postponement of a Bills passage through all its stages on one day.”
“I guess he is foolishly proud of that,” Mr Picardo said.
“Delaying the legislative process is of no help to real people, with real problems, but I guess it floats his boat.”
“Instead, I am too busy having to ensure that single parent families are not prejudiced by his and Mr Phillips’ latest wheeze to delay legislation.”
“The letter from Mr Clinton is, however, a helpful illustration of the pedantry and waste of time that the GSD are engaged in whilst my ministerial team is busy dealing with the human realities of Brexit and as we continue ensure we are able to provide all Government services across all our portfolios.”
“As a retired banker, Mr Clinton clearly has enough time on his hands to indulge himself.”
“The Government is instead dedicating every moment available to getting Brexit right and not engaging in childish games.”