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The legislative branch of government

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Part III of IV: The Constitution of SVG
by Cedric Harold 16.JUN.06

Section 1: The House of Representatives

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in the Parliament of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Clause 1:

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members who will normally serve 4-year terms and who may offer themselves for election indefinitely. There will however be elections every two years to fill one-half of the membership of the House. If the number of members is an odd number, then one-half plus one will be replaced first, followed two years later by one-half only.{{more}}

Clause 2:

The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every six thousand on average. Given the present population of approximately 115,000 persons resident in the islands and the fact that the State is strung out over an area larger than any other in the Windward Island group, a House of 15 to 17 persons should be considered adequate.

Clause 3:

No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained the age of twenty five years.

Clause 4:

The House of Representatives shall choose its Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment. Among the Officers will be the House Majority Leader and the House Minority Leader. These will not function as government and opposition, but as conduits for selecting members to sit on committees, and to schedule speaking appointments in House debates. Notwithstanding that either the majority side or the minority side shall be comprised of members of more than one political party, there shall be only one House Majority Leader and one House Minority Leader.

Clause 5:

Members of the House shall be paid a stipend for their services plus a travel allowance. These will be set every two years, prior to the holding of any elections, by a committee of the House with the concurrence of the Senate. The greater part of their remuneration however shall be in the form of a pension should they serve at least two full terms, and this pension will reflect their attendance at House meetings over the years and membership of committees.

They will in addition receive allowances for the upkeep of a constituency office to include the wages of a receptionist/secretary, and a messenger, as well as expenses for utilities, general maintenance and computing and communications equipment. In addition, they will have the use of a parliamentary secretariat capable of undertaking research, and which shall serve both Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Pensions will be payable as the individuals reach retirement age.

Clause 6:

The business of the House shall be done largely through committees, several of which will be standing committees (e.g. the Budget Committee, the Public Accounts Committee, the Committee for Trade, Commerce and Foreign Relations, and others). The Executive will, for example, prepare an annual budget, and present it to the House and Senate. It will be the job of the Budget Committee to critique that budget and to make amendments. Amendments and counter-amendments will generally move back and forth between the Executive and the House until there is a large measure of agreement, or until the Treasury can no longer issue cash warrants to run the affairs of state for want of taxes flowing in, such taxes being dependent upon the passage of the budget. Neither the Executive nor the House will want to be responsible for non-payment of salaries, for example.

Clause 7:

Where there is major disagreement between the Executive and a House committee, the House will be obliged to appoint a joint House and Senate committee before submitting a further proposal to the Executive. The term “major disagreement” shall apply if so declared by the President or the Secretary appointed by him to the portfolio in question (e.g. Secretary of the Treasury).

Section 2: The Senate

Clause 1:

The Senate shall be composed of nine Senators elected for six year terms by those eligible to vote in SVG elections. Members nominated to be Senators shall be selected from among professional type bodies such as businessmen, trade unionists, the clergy, and other bodies classified as professional – e.g. doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects – i.e. people who have undergone training at a university or professional school and who require a number of years to graduate.

Clause 2:

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained the age of thirty years at the time of his nomination.

Clause 3:

The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of SVG is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Clause 4:

Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honour, trust or profit: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.

Clause 5:

Senators will have use of the parliamentary secretariat. They will be paid a stipend for their services.

Clause 6:

All bills, whether originating in the House or the Executive, will be passed to the Senate, which will have a duty to discuss, suggest amendments and pass resolutions on them. The House and the Executive will be obliged to acknowledge the contribution of the Senate, and to have their views reflected in attempts to achieve resolution.

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