Saturday 28 March, 2020

PNP continues opposition to NIDS Bill after walkout

Paulwell tabled the motion calling for the Bill to be referred to the Standing Orders Committee.

Paulwell tabled the motion calling for the Bill to be referred to the Standing Orders Committee.

Having walked out of the parliament a week earlier, the Opposition People's National Party is now calling for the controversial National Identification and Registration System (NIDS) Bill to be referred to the Standing Committee of the House of Representatives. 

The Bill was approved by the governing Jamaica Labour Party on November 21, after the opposition walkout. This after it was returned from the Senate with a staggering 168 amendments. Now the opposition is arguing that the government breached the standing orders while approving the amended Bill.

On Wednesday, Leader of Opposition Business in the House, Phillip Paulwell tabled the motion calling for the Bill to be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. The motion states that amendments from the Senate that were passed by the Government members who remained after the walkout by the Opposition, breached an earlier indication by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to have the amendments debated at a later date.

The motion highlighted that the sitting of the House had been suspended for 20 minutes but lasted longer without an extension being granted. It also states that Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips had indicated his desire to table a motion on the matter. This, with a view to having the matter referred to a joint select committee of the parliament.

On resumption after the extended break, the Prime Minister reversed his previous position and sought to have the amendments from the Senate considered en bloc. Approval was given by the speaker of the House. The motion notes that that decision could have breached the standing orders.

The regulations governing the Bill are not yet in place. In the meantime, the Prime Minister has indicated that he’s prepared to hold island-wide consultations on the matter. For their part, the opposition has indicated a willingness to challenge certain provisions of the Bill, all the way to the courts.

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