Spirited objections by the two Opposition Members prevented a controversial Bill from being debated and forced the re-composition of a special committee today in the Lower House.
Opposition Leader Jamale Pringle objected to any debate of the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill, 2021 on the ground that he and Barbuda MP Trevor Walker had received the document only the day before. Accordingly, they had not been allowed sufficient time to consult on the matter before the debate.
While Attorney-General Steadroy Benjamin argued that the Bill had been circulated electronically weeks before, Pringle contended that changes had been made to the original document after the Bar Association raised certain objections.
Benjamin then agreed that the Bill should not be debated. He said that, for full transparency, it would be sent to a Select Committee for examination and consultation.
Accordingly, to study the Bill with him, he selected four other Members, among them the Representative for All Saints West.
Walker supported Pringle and agreed to the formation of a Committee, but he objected strongly to the inclusion of the All Saints West MP.
Pointing out that the Member currently has a criminal matter before the Court, Walker said it would constitute a conflict of interest for him to be part of the group that would determine how the legislation – having to do with trial by a judge only – would go forward.
Benjamin again conceded, and the motion was amended to include the Member for St. John’s Rural South, instead. It was seconded by the MP for St. Mary’s North.