The law which allows the Speaker of Parliament to have the final say in interpreting the law of the House must be changed, Police Minster Māteni Tapueluelu has said.
Hon. Tapueluelu said Parliamentary rules had given the Opposition and the Speaker the opportunity to make their own interpretation of what they thought the House rules should say about any submission to the House by the government.
He said that when there was an argument over the interpretation of the rules, Clause 31 of the Parliamentary procedures said the Speaker must deliver his own interpretation and the House must follow.
This was no matter whether the Speaker’s interpretation was legally correct or not.
Hon. Tapueluelu said the government’s lawyer has advised that the wording of the Parliament’s laws and rules book must be “clear cut.”
He said this kind of political playing must be stopped and this was why he declared in the House recently that the government would impeach Acting Speaker Lord Tu’ilakepa after he exercised the clause.
He confirmed to Television Tonga last week the government would also take court action against the king’s noble.
Lord Tu’ilakepa’s controversial decision
In March the government submitted to the House the Bills which were due to be returned to Parliament after they had been discussed in a two-week public consultations.
The government submitted the Bills under the law of urgency according to the law clause 131 which says:
“The Legislative Assembly shall not proceed upon a Bill after its first reading for a period of two weeks or such longer time that the Assembly decides is needed to allow members to scrutinise the Bill, and for the public to make submissions, but this shall not apply to –
(a) Appropriation Bills; and
(b) Bills certified by the Prime Minister to be urgent.”
However, Lord Tu’ilakepa, disregarded the way in which the government benches interpreted clause 131, which requires the Prime Minister to certify the urgency of the Bills.
The Acting Speaker said that when the Prime Minister certified that the six new Bills were urgent, he should have also explained why were they urgent.
The government disputed this, saying the law did not require the Prime Minister to give the reasons why the Bills were urgent.
Lord Tu’ilakepa then used Clause 31 of Parliamentary rules to justify his interpretation and ordered the government’s new Bills be passed to the Parliament’s Standing Committee, from which they were later taken for more public consultation.
The main points
- The law which allows the Speaker of Parliament to have the final say in interpreting the law of the House must be changed, Policer Minster Māteni Tapueluelu has said.
- Hon. Tapueluelu said Parliamentary rules had given the Opposition and the Speaker the opportunity to make their own interpretation of what they thought the House rules should say about any submission to the House by the government.
For more information
Tonga police minister threatens to impeach Acting Speaker