By anguillian March 13, 2017 15:40



In one of its most simple, yet perhaps tricky, internal self-examinations so to speak, the Anguilla House of Assembly met briefly after the main session on Tuesday, March 7, to determine what is the difference, if any, between minutes and transcripts of its proceedings recorded either by clerical personnel of the House or Court reporters providing such assistance.

The matter arose when the House began the approval process of a set of minutes of previous meetings listed on the Order of Business. ” Mr. Speaker, I just want to say something and I think it is very important that it is said,” the Leader of the Opposition, Ms. Palmavon Webster, stated: “I recognize that we haven’t had minutes in this House and I acknowledge the incredible work that of our Court Reporters are doing for us because without them we wouldn’t have these transcripts. But, Mr. Speaker, there is a difference between minutes and transcripts – and I just want to put on record that while it is providing an important resource, we cannot just look to the transcripts for the purpose that our Constitution and our Parliamentary Rules refer to. Now, I am absolutely happy to go on record to say that it is very critical to have some record. I just want to make that observation because I want the records to reflect that these [transcripts] are not minutes in the context of what the law advocates. I just want to put that on record because it is very, very important; and it points to the important resource that we are lacking in terms of the pillars of democracy. As I said, I can’t tell you how proud I am, and how much I recognize the incredible commitment of the Court’s staff and what they and our House of Assembly staff are doing. I don’t what to sit here and agree that these are minutes when they are not meeting the standards set out by our law. So Mr. Speaker, I just want to say this so you will understand when I abstain.”
“I have one question to ask: What are minutes?”, the Speaker, Mr. Leroy Rogers, replied.

To that, the Leader of the Opposition suggested that there might be a need for an adviser in the House so that the people’s business can be done in a professional way; and in a way that many generations from now can point to, and say that this was a House that was different and wanted to improve things.

Chief Minister and Leader of Government Business, Mr. Victor Banks, said he was not fully engaged in what the Leader of the Opposition had said. “As far as I am concerned, minutes are a recording, transcript or record of what took place at a meeting,” he stated. “These minutes are verbatim so I am not aware of anything that would have been left out to which the Honourable Member for Island Harbour refers. But, then, I am not versed in the technical aspects of the law so I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that after this sitting of the House, we should have just a brief minute with the Member for Island Harbour so that I can have a better idea of what she is referring to. Over the 37 years that I have been associated with this Honourable House of Assembly, the only minutes that I have ever seen were the transcripts of the proceedings at these meetings.
“Mr. Speaker, I share her commendations for the staff of the Honourable House of Assembly because my experience over those 37 years has included times when we did not have transcripts of the minutes for years – and when we got those transcripts they were way overdue and that was because of the capacity of the House. We are trying to build the capacity of the House, and I must compliment the Clerk of the House of Assembly for the excellent job that he is doing. I know he needs resources to really do an even better job and that is the task we have before us. I have heard what the Member for Island Harbour has said but, as I said, I was not fully engaged in the finer details of what her definition of minutes is and how it applies to this House of Assembly. So, Mr. Speaker, I beg your indulgence for us to have a sit down especially that the Attorney General is here. This will be a short House so that we can deal with this issue at that time.”

Before granting the Chief Minister’s request, the Speaker commented: “If there is anything I wish to say is that, throughout the region, this transcript system is used. They have the same Court Reporters for the Minutes.”

By anguillian March 13, 2017 15:40


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