The Lower House of Parliament acted to return the controversial Citizenship by Investment Programme Bill to the Senate on Monday.
The CIP Bill was returned to the Upper House by approval of a resolution tabled by Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer.
The resolution, which was hotly debated prior to its passage by “voice” vote, called for members of Parliament to return the CIP Bill to the Senate without debate or amendment, with the recommendation that Senators reconsider their earlier rejection.
Leader of the Opposition Gaston Browne challenged what he categorized as the improper re-introduction of the Bill into the Lower House, and was strongly supported by Member for St Johns City South Steadroy Benjamin and Member for St Marys North Molwyn Joseph, who argued that since the resolution dealt with actions to be taken regarding the CIP Bill, the move by the government side constituted an improper action. The opposition MPs insisted that the proposed resolution contravened Parliamentary Standing Order Number 59, as well as Section 59 of the Constitution.
However, Attorney General Justin Simon argued that Sections 52.1 and 55 of the Constitution outlined the process and procedures to be followed in dealing with matters such as the one in hand. He countered opposition claims that the CIP Bill had been returned by the Senate on two occasions.
Noting that upon initial presentation to the Upper House, the Bill had been withdrawn before debate, Simon stressed that the February 13 rejection of the Bill in its entirety represented the first and only occasion on which the Bill was returned to the Lower House.
According to the available procedures, the AG continued, it was in order for the Lower House to return a money bill to the Senate by resolution, with the request that Senators reconsider their earlier rejection. If after a period of 30 days the Senate declined to reconsider the February 13 action, the CIP Bill could then be forwarded to the Governor General for her assent, notwithstanding the Senate’s position.
Speaker of the House D Gisele Isaac ruled that Standing Order number 59 did not apply in the case before the House. She rejected opposition objections, observing that Section 57.1 of the Constitution gave Parliament the power to regulate its own procedures.
The resolution was accordingly passed, and the sitting of the Lower House adjourned sine die.