Authority of the Assembly to make Amendments to or to Effect Cuts to the Estimates2366 15 Apr, 2013
Mr. B. Williams: If I pleases you Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that I concur with the submissions on this side of the House. I support the submissions of the Hon. Member Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, Mrs. Deborah Backer, and the Hon. Member Carl Barrington Greenidge. We believe that we ought to reject out of hand the contentions coming from that side of the House, that this August House does not have the ability to reduce a line item in a budget but must disapprove the entire budget. I have never heard anything like that in life before, and I am going to show you why it is ludicrous.
One would want to believe, if we are going to refer to the judgement of the learned Chief Justice that, obviously, it will be done in the manner in which the lawyers do it in the court. However, my learned Friend, the Hon. Attorney General, just said that the ruling, all 34 pages of the ruling… let me disabuse the minds of this Hon. Assembly. If you see a report that is copious it does not mean that everything in that report is the ruling of the court. And why am I saying that? There are rules; one looks for the decision of the court and then one looks for the ratio decidendi. I do not know what my learned Friend is saying to this Assembly. Let me show you why I am saying that.
The Hon. Member filed a Writ of Summons and sought several declarations in that writ; that the cuts were unconstitutional, et cetera. Mr. Speaker, you know that a Writ of Summons involves pleadings before it becomes right for hearing. So those substantive items my learned Friend has in his endorsement of claim in the Writ of Summons cannot come up for hearing until the pleadings are closed and the matter is right for hearing. Why am I saying that? Mr. Nandlall has to file a statement of claim; this is not an originating motion. That is why since that case he has been attempting to file originating notice of motion which is also wrong because that procedure is related only to breaches of the fundamental right provisions of our Constitution. We have to file a defence in response to his statement of claim. He could file a reply if he wishes and at the end of that a request for hearing would be filed. That is the only time those substantive issues will come up. But in the interim what did he do? He filed an ex-parte application to the court which I have here. In that ex-parte application he approached the court asking one question and that is the only ruling the court has in this matter, on the one question he sought their ruling from the court for.
This is what he said at page 11 of his ex-parte application, paragraph 39:
“The Plaintiff therefore now seeks the following interim order, that the third named defendant be at liberty to make advances or withdrawals from the Contingencies Fund pursuant to Article 220 of the Constitution for the purpose of restoring the funds to the agencies listed in Schedule A hereto attached as originally budgeted in the Estimates of Revenues and Expenditure for Guyana for the year 2012.”
That is the only issue that my learned Friend went to the court on, because the matter has not been right for hearing, and right now is not right for hearing because he never filed a statement of claim. So let us see what is the position of the Hon. Chief justice.
On page 7 of the judgement the Hon. Chief Justice said this:
“The Attorney General further by way of an ex-parte application by way of affidavit sought the following interim order, “That the third-named defendant be at liberty to make advances/withdrawals from the Contingencies Fund…”
As I just read. This is what he said:
“It is this ex-parte application for the above interim order with which this court is now concerned.”
This is the only issue that the Hon. Chief Justice had to determine at that interim stage. And Your Honour knows this. Mr. Speaker, you are well aware of this. The Hon. Chief Justice has to answer the question posed by the Attorney General, whether he would allow the Minister of Finance to make advances or withdraws from the Contingencies Fund. All of us who participated in that case know he sought during the hearing to include Consolidated Fund recognising that his whole application would have failed ab initio in the first place. We opposed that application but the Hon. Chief Justice allowed him to add Consolidated Fund also. That was the issue. What was the decision of the Hon. Chief Justice in answer to that question? Might I respectfully refer you to page 31 of the judgement; and, Sir, you notice all these things were avoided by the Hon. Member. He asked the question could the Minister of Finance made advances and withdrawals. This is what the Hon. Chief Justice said at page 3:
“…the court must decline to order any interim relief in relation to reductions or cuts to those line items to which the Appropriation Act applies.”
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Williams, which line are you reading from?
Mr. B. Williams: Page 31 at the bottom, Sir.
“…the court must decline to order any interim relief in relation to reductions or cuts to those line items to which the Appropriation Act applies.”
That is the decision in the interim ruling of the Hon. Chief Justice which cannot be contradicted.
As lawyers we have now to seek what were the reasons for that decision and I respectfully refer you to page 25 of the judgement. The reasoning by the Hon. Chief justice was this:
“That Cabinet (and this is what is important) had decided to accept the estimates of expenditure as reduced by the Assembly. Thereafter the accompanying Appropriation Bill was amended and reintroduced and laid before the National Assembly.”
Mr. Speaker: What page is this?
Mr. B. Williams: Page 25. Everything I am going to relate to the judgement. These pages were not inside the ruling my learned Friend had. It continues:
“As amended to conform with the cuts made by the National Assembly, that bill was passed by the Assembly.”
That is the reason for the decision of the chief justice at the interim stage. There was nothing to do with you cannot cut. Everything thing Mr. Nandlall talked about is what lawyers call orbiter dicta or what the ordinary people in Guyana would call gaff.
Mr. Speaker: In fairness to both the Chief Justice and the Hon. Attorney General, the paragraph above on page 25, I do not think you could avoid that.
Mr. B. Williams: Sir, that is not relevant to his decision. I am reading his decision and the reasoning. [Interruption] I am coming to that. He is saying the cuts were proposed, the Minister of Finance went back to the Cabinet, the Cabinet then agreed to accept the cuts and the Bill they had originally moved in this House to initiate the estimates and expenditure discussion in the Committee of the Assembly they amended it to reflect the cuts and then they came and relayed it in the Parliament and the Hon. Minister of Finance said that it be accepted as amended. In other words the entire recourse to the high court was a waste of judicial time because the issue had already been determined by the Minister of Finance, the Cabinet and the Government of Guyana.
The Hon Prime Minister is saying it was by duress. In fact, the Hon Attorney General put that to the Hon. Chief justice and this is what he said on page 26:
“Counsel for the applicant (that is the Hon Attorney General) submitted that the unconstitutional act of the National Assembly in cutting or reducing the estimates of expenditure…”
He is not talking about cutting the Appropriation Bill he is talking about cutting the estimates of expenditure. This is what the Hon Attorney General is telling the learned Chief Justice.
“…that the unconstitutional act of the National assembly in cutting or reducing the estimates of expenditure rendered the Appropriation Act pro tanto void.”
In other words, knowing that the Cabinet, which includes him, decided to accept the reduction and amend the Appropriation Bill and relay it in Parliament and pass it without demur he is now going to the Hon. Chief Justice to tell him we did it under duress and so it is void pro tanto or ab initio. That is what he is saying. Let us see what the Hon Chief Justice said. You would realise, Sir, the Hon. Attorney General avoided all these pages. I am at page 26. This is what the Hon. Chief justice said in response to him.
“No doubt, in accepting the reductions to certain line items in the estimates of expenditure, the Minister of Finance acted under the constraining circumstances which then obtained in the National Assembly, that is, unless the Bill was amended to conform with the cuts inflicted by the National Assembly, the National Assembly could not pass the Bill.”
And he continues, so those are the arguments that you just made Hon. Prime Minister.
“However, the passing of the Bill was snot the act of the Minister by the act of the National Assembly. It is irrelevant what has motivated the Minister to amend and lay before the National Assembly the Bill. What is important is that the National Assembly did pass the Bill, which was laid before it. Any duress (as they are contending here) of circumstances which has operated to cause the introduction of the bill by the Minister could not operate to vitiate the act of the National Assembly in passing the Bill.
The court continued:
“As such, its act of passing the Bill could not be invalidated on the plea of duress of circumstances. The court finds no basis for finding that the presumption of constitutionality has been rebutted and accordingly views the Appropriation Act as not invalidated for unconstitutionality.”
This was very important. As you mentioned your predecessor the Hon. Ralph Ramkarran made a decision about Standing Orders.
There are some Members in this Hon. House who would want us to operate as though we were in a circus; that we make a decision today and then run from it tomorrow. In fact, the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, 2009, from Parliament, tells us clearly:
“Just as case law (the body of judge made law) is an important part of the common law system, rulings – the body of Speaker made parliamentary law, are an important part of our parliamentary system.”
They would have you one day make a ruling, then the next day run away from it. We cannot operate like that; we have to have order in this hallowed Assembly. We must have certainty in our dealings in this Hon. House. We cannot whimsically or capriciously to fix an argument, go and rebut previously decisions of the Hon. House. We cannot do that; we must operate as a matured Parliament and a matured Assembly. We have to take our cases talem qualem as we find them. You do not have to twist it and turn it just to get your way. In fact, as I said, this is the only relevant ruling of the learned Chief Justice because it was the question that was asked of him and he said that was the only issue we were dealing with at the time.
In terms of the actual request to allow the Minister of Finance to be at liberty to withdraw from the funds - the Contingency and Consolidated Funds - and to make advances, he continued on that too. Mr. Speaker, might I respectfully refer you to page 28 of the judgement. [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Members, one second. The Hon. Attorney General spoke for one and a half hours, not that I expect Mr. Williams to do the same, but he is entitled to take his time and to be heard because this is important and I need to hear all the arguments. Please allow Mr. Williams to speak; proceed please.
Mr. B. Williams: I will not. At page 28, the Hon. Chief Justice continues:
“It is therefore constitutionally prohibited...”
Remember that the Attorney General is asking the Chief Justice to allow the Minister of Finance to take out moneys from the Consolidated and Contingency Funds and to restore the cuts. He says this:
“It is therefore constitutionally prohibited to withdraw moneys from the Consolidated Fund, unless authorised under Article 217 (A) and (B). Likewise it is constitutionally prohibited to withdraw moneys from any other public fund with the authorisation of an act of Parliament.”
Mr. Speaker, who passes an Act of Parliament? Is it the court, the Executive or is it the Parliament? I would like to say I rest my case, but I will continue. I am not going to regale for hours. The Hon. Member, felt that he could put me in a boat and row me to China and distract me, but I am too experienced for that.
Another aspect of his reasoning for his decision is found at page 31. [Mr. Nandlall: ...cannot come to the front of the judgement...] Is it the front of the judgement? What does the front of the judgement has to do with it? I was at the front of the judgement when you were outside. We are making progress here you know. At page 31 of the judgement, the court said:
“Since the court cannot substitute itself for the Minister for the purposes of the 218...”
As my learned friend was advancing:
“...the court must decline to give interim relief.”
That is what he ruled. He said:
“Since the court cannot substitute itself for the Minister...”
In other words, he is saying, what are you coming to me for? When you come to me and ask me to let you make advances from the funds, you are telling me I must usurp the law and impose myself on the National Assembly. That is what you are saying. The decision of the Hon. Chief Justice was laid bare, it is very clear and that this Hon. House has to deal with. It is not that you cannot cut and what could be reduced and all these things that my learned friend regaled us about. In fact, let me show you, the Hon. Chief Justice described all of that. Do you know what he described them as? Views; he said those where his views and he was not even settled in his views at that point in time. That is what they were; they were not his decision.
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Williams, are you then conceding that if it was a substantive ruling or order, it would have a different weight than if it were merely views?
Mr. B. Williams: Sir, even if it was a final order; if the order was made, it was an normal interlocutory order. You still have to go through the analysis. We are dealing with any first... I mean, I do not understand this. An emergent lawyer coming through the training would know this. In fact, in legal working, as we call it – legal writing, you are told to brief a case and you have to put out the factual matrix, you have raise the issues of the facts allocate to that matrix and then you have to come up with the decision. Sir, you know that we went through volumes thick like those things to find the decision and even more, to find the ratio decidendi, the reason for the decision. Any law student must know that. If they do not know that they are, in fact, the thing about this whole legal profession is that the person who comes last in law school is still called a lawyer.
I am respectfully submitting that that is the only relevant ruling of the Hon. Chief Justice before you. Sir, I would like to refer you to page 7 of the judgement in 94/12 of 2012. That is the matter which the Hon. Member took to the court, asking whether the Hon. Member Rohee could speak as Minister; that is the case. He was reading from page 7 of that judgement. Basically he was trying to attack the status of the National Assembly and he was trying to subordinate us to the courts; that is what he was trying to do. I am respectfully submitting that our National Assembly is not subordinated to the courts.
Mr. Speaker: I am very interested in that line of argument.
Mr. B. Williams: Yes, I am coming to it. I will show you where he omitted to speak on. At page 7, this is what the Hon. Chief Justice said and my learned friend started reading from here and then he skipped:
“The court also has the jurisdiction to determine the existence and the extent of the rights and privileges of the Assembly and its Members, since the determination of such questions involve the determination of issues of law.”
My learned Friend read up to there and then he jumped, but if he had continued, this is what he would have read to you:
“This is not at all to say that the National Assembly cannot seek to determine such legal issues itself.”
Which is the most important statement in that ruling and he jumped that. [Mr. Nandlall: I read that!] He did not.
Under the “Separation of powers”, the court’s jurisdiction is not to examine our conduct. No! The court’s jurisdiction is to interpret the law. That is the court’s jurisdiction. If the court has a Bill passing through it, the court cannot interrupt us in our internal proceedings to pass that Bill, even if it is unlawful. That is what the high court case in Hong Kong said. My learned Friend did not read that. It is not unlawful to us, proceeding in our domain, the internal proceedings of a National Assembly of Parliament, to proceed on any motion, bill or petition, even if, they believe that it affects some rule. It is not unlawful. [Member: ...] Nothing is here, I do not know why he does this when important points are about to be made. I have to look and see if the Hon. Member Mr. Nandlall has a debugger. Sir, they like equipment over there you know. [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker, can I continue? I am trying to get your undivided attention so that you can appreciate your powers. Sir, if I may continue.
As I said, it says:
“This is not at all to say that the National Assembly cannot seek to determine such legal issues itself...”
And this is what it continues”
“Indeed, there is every reason why it should seek to do so.”
So I do not know what the Hon. Member was trying to tell you. [Mr. Nandlall: Read the next side.] Should I read the next side? I am reading the next side. He continues:
“Since it is not the function of the court, to intervene in or to interfere with the Assembly in the conduct of its affairs or business the court has no jurisdiction to issue coercive orders to this Assembly...”
[Interruption] Do you want me to read more? At page 8... Mr. Speaker, I see a lot of people are... I am trying to get your attention.
Mr. Speaker: There was a reference that this is like the Link Show.
Mr. B. Williams: Yes Sir. We do not mind, but it is a serious link.
Mr. Speaker: Very important. Go ahead.
Mr. B. Williams: Page 8 - I think they should finally rest this question of the status and stature...
Mr. Speaker: What was the page again? Is that number 94 of 2012?
Mr. B. Williams: Yes, this is the action, by way of motion, inquiring from the learned Chief Justice, whether Mr. Rohee could speak as a Minister. He said, “No” he could not speak as a Minister there too. That was the decision of that case.
Let us put this thing to rest finally; this is my last word on it; that we have every right to proceed independently in the internal affairs of our business.
“Since the court does not see it as part of its judicial function to direct the Speaker or the National Assembly as to the future conduct of the affairs of the Assembly...”
That is the end of the matter. In other words he is saying to you, he cannot tell you how you must go about the business of the National Assembly nor can he tell the National Assembly and he gives an illustration, since the Prime Minister is saying something. He says this:
“If the National Assembly is debating a Bill for passing, it is open to the court to make a declaration that the Bill, if pass, in its existing form and accented to by the President would result in an Act which would be void for unconstitutionality. The declaratory judgement of the court would be final and binding, even though not enforceable.”
That is the point we wish to make; you cannot enforce orders against the National Assembly. That is keeping with the “Separation of Powers” that my learned Friend spent nearly two hours talking about. He continues: [Interruption]
“But the court would not and cannot injunct the National Assembly from continuing to debate or to pass the Bill, since it is not the function of the court to intervene in or to interfere with the Assembly in the conduct of its affairs or its business.”
How many more times do we have to have this? This is what he said; which was a point I was making earlier:
“It is only after the Bill has been passed by the Assembly...”
That is, when we are finished doing our business.
“...and assented to by the President, that it will be open to the court to declare that the Act...”
Because it is now an Act:
“...to be void for unconstitutionality and seek to set it aside for that reason.”
But, while we are passing it through this House “nobody moves, nobody gets hurt”.
There are other things where my learned Friend took us out, but one of things, Ms. Ester Perreira. Ms. Ester Perreira cannot be used against us because we are making our decisions. Ms. Ester Perreira was a decision of this Hon. House. It was not this Hon. House which overruled itself the next day on it, it was the court. That is the court’s business, but this House passed the relevant legislation. Sir, in this case that is our business also. What I am saying is that we cannot keep receding from decisions made. What is the import of that decision on what happened last year in this honourable Parliament, when the reduction was accepted by the Hon. Minister of Finance and by the Cabinet/Government? They amend the Bill that they originally laid to coincide with the cuts and then they passed it as amended. What is the implication of that? It is clear that since the appropriation aspect of the proceedings were declared to be constitutional by the learned Chief Justice, it means this... [Interruption] Is the Attorney General disobeying with the Chief Justice’s rulings now?
1. That decision tells us that we can cut and reduce the Estimates and the options the Government has ...
Mr. Speaker: One second Mr. Williams, just so that I get it. Because the learned Chief Justice did not vacate the Act, it means that he left standing the decision of this House.
Mr. B. Williams: Exactly. Sir, what they did, was to subsequently adopt the cuts in the Committee of Supply when they went with the Appropriation Bill, as amended, and passed it in this Hon. House.
It cannot be that there is no right to cut because if we could not cut, the Chief Justice could not predicate an Appropriation Bill on such cuts because as the Latin maxim goes Nihil nil fit; out of nothing cometh nothing. So it means that we could cut in the Committee of Supply and we could reduce.
What are the options of the Government? When we cut in the Committee of Supply the Government has two options; it could do as it did last year and Cabinet agrees, accept the reductions, amend the Appropriation Bill accordingly, and past it as amended. The other option it has is not to bring the Appropriation Bill. The decision from the Chief Justice said we could cut in the Committee of Supply. If they want to avoid passing the Estimates as amended, all they have to do is not bring the Appropriation Bill, as amended. If they bring the Bill, we could amend the Bill because his own argument is that we could amend the Act, once it is passed. According to the Hon. Attorney General’s argument, under Article 171 (2) (A) my learned friend is saying, “Look it must be an existing charge.” So the moment the Bill becomes an Act, it is a charge... [Interruption] Yes, Sir, once he does that it is a charge and there upon, according to Article 171 (2) (A), we can reduce it. According to his argument, we believe that we can reduce the Bill, both in the Committee of Supply and at a later stage. At this point I concur and I adopt the arguments of the Hon. Member, Khemraj Ramjattan on these points about the ability to cut, which he dealt with exhaustively in his presentation in the Committee of Supply.
The Hon. Chief Justice dealt with this issue himself and he said, even if the situation of cutting arose, who is supposed to remedy the Estimates? He said, he believes that it is the Minister of Finance and the Government who should have the opportunity to remedy the Estimates. That they should go back and make the corrections and return to this Hon. House; come back to papa as it were. [Mr. Speaker: ...] That is his judgement. I believe that is an option he has.
Mr. Speaker: In Nigeria just last month, the government of Nigeria did just that.
Mr. B. Williams: I believe they could do that.
Mr. Speaker: Where the House did not approve the full budget. The President in Nigeria withdrew and then President Goodluck Jonathan came with an Appropriation Amendment Bill, brought it back. That was only last month in March and this is still ongoing.
Mr. B. Williams: In fact, you are raising a very good point. Why I ruminated on it is that the Government has... [Interruption] [Mr. Speaker: Be careful with ruminated.] Sir, no, it is ruminated. Since the Government has until the end of April to pass the Budget as it were, they therefore have time to go back and to do the necessary corrections and return. In fact, the Hon. Member, the shadow finance minister has written you, a letter that I have seen and he is suggesting to them that they are in breach of the Constitution with which I agree in terms of lump sum payments to Constitutional bodies and that they should go and make their corrections and bring it back in time before the expiration of this exercise in the House is completed.
I do believe that the Hon. Chief Justice also recognises that if they could back and correct it, it means that he is recognising that you could cut it so that they could go and bring it back. He is recognising that. We concur in that view that once we implement cuts, the Government through the Minister of Finance, could go back to Cabinet and they could do the necessary adjustments to bring it in line and in conformity, recognising the one vote majority that we have on this side of the House, that if they do not do, there is a real possibility that it would not be passed.
We believe that this whole thing when you look, I think the last time I spoke in this House I told you about the historical importance of your presiding in this Assembly at this time. These things my learned friends or the Hon. Members on the other side are rising up and making noise about, the only reason these things never occurred before, as my previous presenter said was because of how the House was configured. This House has been configured from the outset for a majority Government. So it was a non-issue when the Budget is proposed, that they would use their majority and pass it. But what you have now is that the Opposition has the majority and this now really creates a scenario, which really the historical revolution of this whole exercise of levying imposed on the population would be satisfied. This is how this whole process started in England. The king used to levy on the people and he levied on the people for he, his household and for the courts. That is what he used to do and then he started extending it. I would tell you another thing about the English people through the ages; they do not stand for nonsense for long. They said, “Wait what is happening here? You are taxing us to the hilt and we are not getting any benefit in return.” So the people decided that whenever they came, through their representatives in Parliament, to ask for revenue that they would impose on them obligations; “Look we have a bridge or a road to fix in our community. We have this building to go up here”. That was how it evolved in England. After a time, the people there, representative in Parliament of the people, interfaced with the monarchy and they knew that they had to listen to the wishes of the people in their expenditure of money. Then the Consolidated Fund was evolved. The Consolidated Fund was the anvil upon which the whole financial arrangement that we now have today, in our Parliament in Guyana, arose.
In fact, the Standing Orders which my learned friend is saying the Chief Justice is wanting to say, has no force, they are merely internal rules, Sir, let me respectfully refer you in this Hon. House to the 1980 Constitution Act and the 1980 Constitution. The 1980, the Co-operative Republic of Guyana Act, it says by section 9 of that Act all the Standing Orders that were enforced in Guyana at the time and it said that the Standing Orders enforced in Guyana immediately before the coming into operation of the Constitution would be the Standing Orders for the House of the Assembly under this Constitution. I do not know if you are constituted by an Act of Parliament, which brings into being a Constitution and then you say, “Look in this Constitution these existing Standing Orders must be the Standing Orders”.
My learned Friend is confusing the two things. The Hon. Member is confusing the two things. He is saying that under Article 165 one cannot do “this” and one cannot do “that”. Article 165 authorises us to make additional Standing Orders but I am saying that the Standing Orders that were saved and that were in existence at the creation of the Constitution has to have a higher status than some internal rule. We will argue it down the wire, right down to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) if it comes to that.
I would want to ask the Hon. Member: How did Standing Order Nos. 71 to 76 arrive in our Standing Orders? What are they doing there? Did we just make those Standing Orders? What do we do? Do we disregard those Standing Orders? I thought the Hon. Chief Justice said that the substantive law is one but the regulation of that law within the National Assembly is a matter for the Standing Orders as interpreted by the Hon. Speaker. That is my understanding of it so even if you have a right to speak that right is regulated because you cannot come and speak as you like. The Standing Orders would regulate that right and if the whole financial procedure from England has been adopted in our constitution... Articles 217, 218, all of those Articles refer to the practice and procedure of the British House of Commons and Section 113 (2) also.
This is what I wish to submit: The persons who drafted the 1980 Cooperative Republic Act are the same people who drafted the Constitution of the Republic of Guyana. Why am I saying that, that they were the same drafters? Do you know why I am saying that? I am saying that because the framers of the 1980 Cooperative Republic Act saved the Standing Orders in existence.
Mr. Speaker: I was going to ask you what the purpose and effect of Article 9.
Mr. B. Williams: Article 9 saved those Standing Orders.
Mr. Speaker: What was the intension?
Mr. B. Williams: Do you know what the intension was? The same person who was drafting the Constitution... It was not necessarily necessary for them to put in the regulations in the Constitution because one already got the Standing Orders in the act saying ‘these will be the Standing Orders’ so the same people who drafted the Constitution put in Articles 217, 218, they put in Article 113. Why would they pack in these same Standing Orders that deal with regulating how one exercises this power of laying estimates and approving estimates? That is what is the crux of the matter so it was unnecessary for the same people, knowing full well that they had saved the existing Standing Orders for the financial procedures, to put it back into the Constitution. Why would one put it back into the Constitution? One has already dealt with it. One has already inserted them into the Constitution and these are not new orders made under Article 165 so they must have a proper status and we are saying that these Standing Orders are merely to regulate the exercise of the powers under Articles 217 and 218. That is what they simply have to do. How else does one go about regulating it? How else? I am saying that we were on proper ground when we said that we could cut and in fact the decision of the Hon. Chief Justice says that we could cut and it is over to the Cabinet or the Government to decide whether they accept the cuts or not. If they accept the cuts they would amend the Appropriation Act which they brought, accordingly. If they do not accept the cuts then they will go back to the drawing board and then come back to us. That is what I am respectfully submitting.
My learned Friend is asking me to wrap up. I believe that I have made my salient points already. Oh yes! This thing that my learned friend is saying that we cannot disapprove... I would end on that note. He is saying that the Constitution only says that we could approve but we cannot disapprove. The Hon. Attorney General has said in this House that under Article 218 we could only approve; we cannot disapprove but if I refer you to pages 11 and 12 of the judgement, the interim ruling, this is what the Hon. Chief Justice says:
“It is the submission of the Hon. Attorney General that while the National Assembly has the discretionary power under Article 218 (2) of the Constitution to approve of and [he has in brackets] (by necessary implication) the power to disapprove of the estimates.”
Hence, even in that case the Hon. Attorney General had conceded before the Hon. Chief Justice that if one had the power to approve one also had the coronary, the power, to disapprove.
I rest my case way into the night and I am reiterating that we, from the ruling of the Hon. Chief Justice, have the ability to cut the estimates of expenditure and we also have the ability to cut the appropriation bill. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. [Applause]
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