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Thursday, 28 April 2011


I would like to respond to some unfortunate statements made by the Chief Minister in an interview with Radio Anguilla regarding a request by myself as Leader of the Opposition to the Speaker through the Clerk of the House of Assembly to convene an urgent meeting of the House to discuss a motion to repeal the Interim Stabilization Levy Act.

My letter was sent to the Clerk on April 14, 2011 was based on the strongly held position by the Anguilla United Front that it is “impossible to implement the Levy in a manner that would be fair to all concerned”. It was our position then, that with two weeks remaining it would be possible to begin a process for repealing the Levy by first presenting a motion in the House of Assembly to debate the merits of such an action. It was our hope that such a process could provide the Government with an opportunity to get the full backing of the House to make the case with the British Government that the implementation of the Levy was presenting issues of unfairness and inequity and should be repealed. But I did not stop there. I also included in my motion a resolution to establish a broad base Tax Commission “to undertake a comprehensive review of Anguilla’s Tax regime by the end of June 2011.”

The Chief Minister in his interview made a number of statements that prove that he is either the recipient of bad advice or is not using his legal advisors effectively. His comments suggests that he does not understand the Constitution under which he is operating neither does he understand his role as an elected official and a member of the Anguilla House of Assembly. The Chief Minister made the following statements:

  1. 1. The repeal of an Act or a Law is only done under orders and approval of a Secretary of State.

  1. 2. He said that I have been misguided by the Leader of the Anguilla United Front, because it is not within his competence to do something which is ridiculous.

  1. 3. He said that he would be definitely showing his ignorance to seek the repeal of the Levy.
I must say that the Chief Minister has lost an opportunity to place the blame of the Levy squarely on the British Government. If he had joined with me to make the case for its appeal in the House of Assembly and the Secretary of State then decided not to give it his approval or assent he would have been in a very strong position. He would then be able to put some substance to his arguments that the British Government was forcing him to impose the Levy. What has happened now is that he is saying to the Anguilla people that he cannot represent them in making laws for the furtherance of their interests.

The Chief Minister is totally wrong in his interpretation of the Anguilla Constitution as it refers to the repeal of bad law. Section 47 of the Constitution provides that “subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Assembly, may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Anguilla”. This means that the Anguilla Legislature has full powers to introduce and make laws for Anguilla. The act of making laws also includes the act of repealing laws. Like in the making of laws so does the repealing of laws require the assent of the Secretary of State.

Section 55 (1) provides that “subject to the provisions of this Constitution and the rules of procedure of the Assembly, any Member may introduce any Bill or propose any motion for debate in, or may present any petition to, the Assembly, and the same shall be debated and disposed of according to the rules of procedure of the Assembly.” This is self-explanatory. Any Member may introduce a Motion. Any member may also introduce a Bill. The only exception to this provision is in sub-section (2), namely, “any Bill or motion making provision for imposing or increasing any tax etc. A motion for repeal of a Bill obviously is not proposing any increase in taxation. Rather, to the contrary, it is removing a “bad tax” measure that is not prohibited under this section.

Section 57 provides that the Bill shall become law upon assent by the Governor. It becomes law immediately upon the Governor’s assent, but the Secretary of State has power to disallow the Bill later if he has good reason to do so. The importance of this point is that unlike the Chief Minister’s statement this means and demonstrates that the Secretary of State is not involved in the Legislative process from the introduction of the Bill to its assent by the Governor. It means that the Chief Minister is mislead and as a consequence is apportioning authority to the Secretary of State that the Secretary does not have. The Secretary of State cannot prevent any motion from going to the House neither does he have the authority to initiate the process of any enactment or repeal of any Act in the Anguilla House of Assembly except by Order in Council.

The Chief Minister is therefore using Section 59 (1) of the Constitution in the wrong context. This section deals with the disallowance of laws. It happens after the legislative process. The Secretary of State’s involvement comes at the end not at the beginning. That is the elected Government’s role through Executive Council and the House of Assembly. That is why the Chief Minister and his Colleagues were elected and that is why he is called “The Leader of Government Business in the Anguilla House of Assembly”. The Chief Minister seems to be seeking leadership from the Secretary of State rather than taking the initiative himself to relieve the burden of a “bad tax” on the people he was elected to serve even if he has to do so with the support of an Opposition motion. I believe he has lost an important opportunity by not supporting this Motion.

It is interesting how, Hubert Hughes, a leader who for years spoke about championing the cause of the ordinary Anguillians is now refusing to support an important initiative to represent the same Anguillians he claimed to love so much. Hubert Hughes is in fact abdicating his responsibilities as Chief Minister to the Secretary of State. This confirms Minister Baird’s comments in his “Who runs Anguilla?” speech. And questions whether Mr. Hughes can provide the leadership required to take us through these tough economic times.

Fellow Anguillians, this recent set back caused by the Chief Minister’s ignorance of his role will not deter us from pursuing the repeal of this “bad tax”. We will be taking further steps in the days ahead and will certainly take this motion to the next sitting of the House of Assembly.

Evans McNiel Rogers
Leader of the Opposition
Anguilla House of Assembly

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“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” – MLK.