Minister of Health Nandi Glassie criticised the opposition’s decision to oppose the second reading of the bill, making reference to Standing Orders 230 and 231.
Standing Order 230 which is on the second reading of the bill states, “On a motion being made and seconded for the second reading of a bill the Speaker shall propose the question, ‘That the bill be now read a second time’, and a debate may arise covering the principles and general merits of the bill.”
Standing order 231, which is on the amendment to “negative” the bill on second reading says, “On the second reading of a bill, an amendment may be proposed to the question, ‘That the bill be now read a second time’, by omitting the word ‘now’ and adding the words ‘upon this day six months’, and no amendment may be moved to this amendment, and if the amendment is carried the second reading of the Bill shall be considered to have been negative.”
Based on those orders, Glassie said he could not comprehend why members of the opposition opposed the second reading of the bill.Leader of Opposition Teina Bishop raised a point of order clarifying the opposition’s stand, saying they were dealing with a bill which the members of the opposition, “never get to see until the financial statement is over.” Glassie also pointed out the opposition’s claim on what was before the House involved estimates and not actuals, adding Standing Order 304 clearly stated the “the estimates of expenditure and the Appropriation Bill shall be introduced in to parliament on or before the fifteenth day of November in each year.”
However, Bishop pointed out Standing Order 305, which states the Appropriation Bill shall contain estimated financial requirements for expenditure on the revenue account for all the services of government for the financial year.
“And the financial year that this House appointed in the last budget is the 30th of June and we are not even there yet. That’s our basis of the objection because we haven’t got to the end of the financial year to satisfy 305.”
Bishop asked Glassie to get on with the principle and the merit of the bill instead of arguing with the standing orders.
Glassie said the standing orders were the doorway to move into the principal and merit of the bill.
“It is very well for the leader of opposition and other members to start confusing on the issue of procedures in parliament but as someone who has sat in this House for the last 10 years and someone who has observed the standing orders and procedures, these procedures need to be raised so that we can share the wisdom with our young parliamentarian.
“Let’s face it, you cannot apply practice from the private sector to public affairs because the private sector focuses on maximising profits, while the public sector focuses on quality of service. And in order to reflect that quality of service, we need to have a fair and responsible budget. Therefore, I find it very difficult for the opposition to see weaknesses in such a comprehensive budget that serves the need of all government departments.”