By Davion Smith, BVI News Staff
Tempers flew in the House of Assembly on Tuesday when opposition member Julian Fraser suggested that the Attorney General, Baba Aziz, is being influenced by the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Ingrid Moses-Scatliffe, who is allegedly a political candidate on the NDP ticket.
Fraser made that suggestion after Aziz gave his legal opinion, effectively stating that the Speaker can be politically affiliated without being biased.
“A Speaker can be partisan without being partial,” Aziz said. “Afterall, the partisan dimension to the Speakership exists because Speakers are, most often, members of a party,” he added while noting that there is nothing in the Virgin Islands Constitution that forbids a sitting Speaker from becoming a political candidate.
That was when Fraser rose in the House to ask that separate opinion be rendered by an attorney who is not influenced by the NDP, or more specifically, the Speaker.
“Madam Speaker, with all due respect, I do not consider the opinion given by the Attorney General, requested by you, on a matter pertaining to you, to be an independent legal opinion. I believe it’s an opinion rendered on your request and, naturally, what I expected,” Fraser said.
Fraser out of order?
But Speaker Moses-Scatliffe fired back stating that Fraser had ‘crossed the proverbial line’.
“What you are doing is impugning improper motives to the Attorney General who continues to advise the House,” she said while accusing Fraser of “wanting to bring down the credibility of the House”.
She then pointed to her seven-year track record as an impartial Speaker.
She reminded members that the House of Assembly has never moved any motion to have her removed as Speaker on the grounds of impartiality or unethical behaviour.
“As a matter of fact, members from both sides of the aisle have commended me on multiple occasions for how I handled the matters — you in particular as well Honourable member for the Third (Fraser),” an impassioned Moses-Scatliffe said.
She then silenced Fraser and Fahie who were keen to voice their objections in relation to her alleged NDP candidacy while still being permitted to sit as Speaker of the House.
The Speaker declared that she will not entertain any further discussion on the matter and ordered that the legislative business of the House continue.
The House of Assembly has the power to strip a sitting Speaker of his/her title and corresponding constitutional powers.