Chief Secretary calls for independent councillors

Chief Secretary Orville London.
THA Chief Secretary Orville London has written Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar requesting a change in the THA Act to allow an alternate voice in the Tobago House of Assembly following the 12-0 victory by the People’s National Movement (PNM) in the January 21 election.

London wants the law amended so that the President can appoint two independent councillors in his own discretion should there be no elected minority in the legislature. London’s letter to the Prime Minister reads:

Dear Honourable Prime Minister,

As you are aware, the recently concluded Tobago House of Assembly elections have produced a result that does not include the opportunity for a minority presence in the House of Assembly.

It is the considered opinion of the people of Tobago that appropriate arrangements be made for the representation of views alternative to those of the winning party be expressed in the Assembly legislature.

In light of the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill No 1/2013 before Parliament, that proposes constitutional change for the relationship between the islands of Trinidad and Tobago and for the operations of the Tobago House of Assembly, I am proposing a legislative change to immediately address this situation.

The proposals submitted by the Tobago House of Assembly to your Government in relation to the amendments to the Tobago House of Assembly Act proposed that the President appoint, in his own discretion, two councillors as members of the Assembly. This proposal will address the current situation as an interim relief pending the passage of full legislative amendments to the relevant laws.

Given the urgency created by the results of the election, for alternative voices in the Assembly legislature, I recommend that the Government seek to have the Parliament approve a change to the current legislation to allow for the provision to be implemented.

I am available for further consultation, in accordance with Section 31, of the Tobago House of Assembly Act 1996.

Yours in Progress.

*c.c. Dr Keith Rowley, Leader of the Opposition.

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