Opposition Members stage another walkout of Parliament over the Half Moon Bay issue
The Opposition representatives of the Lower House of Parliament, led by the Leader, Baldwin Spencer, staged a walkout on Tuesday 12th February 2002 during the debate on the Half Moon Bay Acquisition Resolution.
Before walking out of the proceedings, Baldwin Spencer urged the Speaker of the House not to allow the debate to continue as the House, by discussing a matter twice in one session, was in breach of the Rules of Parliament.
"Our contention is that parcel numbers 55, 56 and 57 are one and the same as parcels 34 and 38. So on the face of it Madam Speaker, because it's the same block number and if it is substantially the same, it cannot be addressed in the same sitting of parliament and nobody in here could argue that we are not dealing with one and the same matter. It is the acquisition of the lands at Half Moon Bay. That is it, and it is the same thing we are doing here. Whether it comes by parcel, 56, 57, 58 or 34 and 38 we are dealing with the same thing. It is identical and we will not be a party to any illegality," the Opposition leader commented.
Prime Minister Bird explained that while the Government had moved and passed a resolution in the House to acquire the land originally registered as parcel 38, it had recently discovered that the registration numbers of the land had changed. Mrs Natalia Querard, the property owner, had sub-divided the land and re-registered it as parcels 55, 56 and 57. Therefore the acquisition of parcel 38 by the House was useless. Minister Bird also made it clear that "the Opposition can jump high and jump low and no matter how long it takes, the government will acquire the property.
The Speaker outlined that the resolution being debated in the House on the 12th February was not the same resolution debated in the House on the 10th of January 2002. It was at that point that the Opposition Leader took objection and stormed out of the Parliament followed by members of his party along with the representative for Barbuda.
During the last debate in the Upper House on the Half Moon Bay matter the Opposition Senators also staged a walkout. They claimed that the government was making a mistake in trying to acquire the property.
The Cabinet of Prime Minister Lester Bird considers that the acquisition is in the interest of the public. It plans to create a fresh environment for investment in the defunct hotel business at Half Moon Bay in order to facilitate the revival of the tourist industry and provide jobs for the inhabitants of the surrounding villages.
The government revealed that despite numerous attempts to have the property reopened (by offering concessions to the owners of the hotel) the hotel remained closed since the passage of Hurricane Luis in 1995.
In spite of the Opposition walkout the resolution was moved and carried.