KINGSTON — The House of Representatives on April 5, even after a lengthy session that started minutes to 11:00 a.m., was unable to pass the Corruption Prevention (Special Prosecutor) Act as members could not come to a consensus on several concerns raised.
Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, who piloted the Bill, conceded at 5:00 p.m. that it would not have been possible to have the Bill passed and sent back to the Senate for its consideration.
The Government side had hoped to pass the Bill before Parliament prorogues for the 2010/11 legislative year.
“In passing legislation that is so complex and so far reaching, we have to be very clear in our mind what we are doing, even if we don’t agree, even if it is something that the majority will eventually carry, but we must we must be very, very clear. It’s quite obvious now that at five o’clock it’s not going to be possible to have that done this evening,” Mr. Golding said.
He said that Tuesday was likely to be the last sitting of the House before, prorogation and “as much as I had hoped to avoid it, this is going to fall off. I hope that the work that we have done and those areas that we have agreed on will not perish.”
He requested that Chief Parliamentary Counsel take a note of the issues that were debated and to make the changes where necessary.
Member of Parliament for East Central St. Andrew, Dr. Peter Phillips noted that efforts should be made to continue the deliberations on the Bill in the next parliamentary year instead of having it fall off the Order Paper.
The members approved a carry-over motion thereby allowing the Lower House to continue its deliberations on the Bill in the 2011/12 fiscal year.
Meanwhile, during the deliberations on the legislation, Member of Parliament for West Central St. James, Clive Mullings, raised concern about Section 31 of the Bill, which purports to establish the Special Prosecutor via the Public Service Commission.
He argued that the Public Service Commission cannot establish the Special Prosecutor as an office.
“If the Public Service Commission is deriving its authority from the Constitution to appoint public officers engaging in public service and it’s in a civil capacity, how then does the special prosecutor fit? We have a problem because while the Public Service Commission will appoint a Director of Public Prosecutions, it is the Constitution, which deems that as a public office,” he said.
“What it therefore means is we now would have to establish the special prosecutor as a public office so the Constitution would have to be amended, because the definition of public office and public service is clear in the Constitution and it is on those instances that the Public Services Commission can appoint,” Mr. Mullings added.
The Corruption Prevention (Special Prosecutor) Act will repeal the 2001 Corruption (Prevention) Act and the 1973 Parliament (Integrity of Members) Act, and establish the Office of the Special Prosecutor as a department of Government with the specific mandate to monitor statutory declarations from public officials and to prosecute those who engage in corrupt conduct.
It provides for the Special Prosecutor’s Office to be notified by the security forces and other public officials, when they uncover evidence of corrupt conduct.
The Office will also be responsible for: advising and assisting the security forces, public authorities and other persons on methods to combat or eliminate corrupt conduct; making recommendations to Parliament on legislative measures designed to strengthen the country’s anti-corruption regime; and informing and advising public authorities, public officials, and other persons, about strategies to combat corrupt conduct, and enlisting public support to address such conduct.
The Bill was passed in the Senate in January with 44 amendments.
By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter