“Not Able To Process Parliamentary Questions”

November 4, 2015

[Updated] Earlier today [Nov 4] the Clerk of the Legislature sent an email out to MPs saying that “due to the lack of resources, in particular administrative staff to support the operations of the Legislature in clerical and secretarial areas, we will not be able to process parliamentary questions until further notice.”

Tweet sent by Shadow Minister David Burt apparently referencing the situation

David Burt Tweet Nov4 2015

Parliamentary questions are defined by the UK Parliament website as playing a “significant role” as they  ”allow Members of Parliament to hold the Government to account” using either oral questions or written questions.

According to the Bermuda Parliament website, “In the House of Assembly the Clerk must receive written questions, not less than nine days before the day on which the answer is required.”

The House of Assembly is due to reconvene on November 13th.

We have reached out to various government departments multiple times via phone and email seeking clarification and will update as able.

Update 7.22pm: The PLP confirmed the email, as printed above, was sent to all members, with the Opposition Whip Lovitta Foggo saying, “When Parliament can’t perform as it should, everyone should feel outraged and concerned.

“The OBA’s austerity measures are now impeding Parliamentary business. This can and will have grave ramifications in doing the people’s work.

“Parliament should always be seen as the front runner in best practices regarding democracy on all levels. Parliamentary oversight is crucial in ensuring the Cabinet is answerable to the people.

“How does this latest development feature with transparency? ‎We work for the people and there should be no hindrances in this process.

“The PLP Opposition will do everything to ensure that our role as parliamentarians will not be impeded or stopped. We will continue to ask the questions the people deserve answers to both in the Assembly and out.”

Update 8.10pm: We have not received a response from any of the Govt. entities we queried earlier today, however the Premier tweeted a response to Mr Burt’s tweet saying, “I received the same message, when I did I called the Speaker who has clarified. The Gov’t is willing to answer any questions.”


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Comments (61)

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  1. San George says:

    Tyranny is alive and well. If we were not broke we could afford a few more civil servants.

    Quo Fata Ferunt!

    • This Government is full of S!@#.

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        And the PLP were any better, or is it only the colour of the liar’s skin that matters to you

        • The Truth says:

          So what you are saying is that the OBA are liars just like the PLP. Didn’t anyone teach you that two wrongs don’t make a right?

          • aceboy says:

            No, the PLP are simply making a mountain out of a molehill, as usual. Refusal to answer Parliamentary questions is a PLP tendency – as when questions were avoided because they were “Plantation Questions” or when MPs simply stormed out of Parliament. The Premier has corrected the call of a lack of Democracy and shown this matter to be an over use of power by a Clerk. Questions are welcomed. Did you not read the whole article?

  2. watching says:

    this sounds to me like the Government is trying to prevent the Opposition from asking Parliamentary questions. what are they trying to hide? This is supposed to be the accountable, transparent and open OBA government.
    We have gone backwards so fast.

    • bx says:

      This email means the end of Bermuda forever. Democracy shattered like the breaking of a wave on the beach of tyranny.

      We’ve gone so far backward we ended up ahead of ourselves and then gone even further to be behind again.

      This OBA conspiracy to form a communist state with all white leaders is now completely obvious


      there is a short term staffing issue which will be resolved shortly.

      • Legalgal says:

        Or there is a go slow/work to rule.

      • Unbelievable says:

        @ bx…please be careful…some people will only read your first few lines and actually believe it.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      Actually, the government doesn’t direct parliamentary staff, I think it falls under the speaker as the leader of parliament. And how is a staff shortage a fall of democracy, it is a sign of a government with insufficient resources… wonder how it got there?

    • bluwater says:

      On the contrary, it sound like the UNIONS are trying to shut down the Legislature.

      Dunkley says “The Gov’t is willing to answer all questions.”

  3. Rubber Meets the Road says:

    Charities having to stop supporting their causes, programs being suspended, infrastruture creaking or not working at all. This is evidence of our fiscal challenge and lack of fiscal discipline.

    I really do not think its smart for the PLP to try to make a political issue of this as their government shares responsibility in the causes that have contributed to the current state of affairs.

    Bermuda needs fiscal reform, new investment and we need it yesterday!!!

    • Unbelievable says:

      Yes the Opposition really acts like it has amnesia and have deliberately forgotten when they were in Govt.

    • jeremy deacon says:


  4. Triangle Drifter says:

    Civil servants behaving badly. No better than W&E trash crews, road crews, bus drivers & M&P staff doing their best to sandbag any progress by the Government.

    Who do they think that they are fooling? If you can’t do the work, get out. Find a job that you can do.

  5. Reality Check says:

    Does the Clerk even have the authority to make this decision? Parliamentary Questions are at the root of Parliamentary systems. Abrogate the right to ask and simultaneously remove the duty to answer and you have ‘talking shop’ similar to the ‘talking shop’ that runs China, that ran The Soviet Union, and that ran old Germany.

    I should be seeing and hearing the most almighty ruckus, not the petty picky stuff I’ve heard seen so far.

    • NCM says:

      No, the Clerk does not have the authority to make this decision. Looks like more subterfuge by civil servants to stymie any progress being made by the OBA.

      Sure the opposition will trot his out at every opportunity as one of their talking points. Nothing more than a continuation of the campaign of disinformation and misinformation.

      • Check This... says:

        So if the Clerk doesn’t have the right to make this decision, someone who is above her must have given her a directive. Any guess who that could have been?

        I’m guessing, The Speaker

        • jt says:

          Nope. Speaker says there will be no interruption to questions.
          Next guess….

  6. At least they’ve informed us / them…
    “due to the lack of resources, in particular administrative staff to support the operations of the Legislature in clerical and secretarial areas, we will not be able to process parliamentary questions until further notice.”
    I smell a rat coming from the Progressive Labour Party / Oppositions side :-(

    • Legalgal says:

      In the modern world the need for “secretarial” assistance of the olden days is much reduced and professions and staff are expected to do their own typing. No more dictation.

    • drunken ursula says:

      yes the smelling rat is the ruling clowns gov’t in power and all their blind supporters ..such as yourself

  7. I and I says:

    LOL!!! If no one sees what is going on I guess we never will! Our MPs get paid enough to research the questions and come up with correct answers. What sense does it make having a session then? Shut the house until can run as normal!!!

  8. Toodle-oo says:

    So the plp is upset that they won’t be able to ask any questions for a while .

    They forget that it wasn’t too long ago that they absolutely refused to answer questions and their supporters thought that it was great !

    You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.

  9. Just a matter of time says:

    Umm could it be that there is a hiring freeze currently in place that is complicating the human resource process ? The arrogance in thinking that all Civil Servant jobs are cookie cutter and identical is truly amazing. Same old story. When something goes wrong blame the Civil Servants and all other Government workers. When something goes right, the OBA Ministers take the credit. Hypocrisy at its best.

    • jt says:

      There are plenty of civil servants. Give the clerk as many as they think they need. Ten…twenty…whatever.

      As for the PLP. A+ in drama class. As usual.

    • Double S says:

      You mean the hiring freeze that the BTUC proposed as a means to avoid furlough days?

    • Zevon says:

      Let’s try getting rid of the staff who ‘can’t do the job’ and hiring people who can. And will.

  10. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    Dumb people are ruining this island…I know that the majority are unaware of what’s yet to come…A smart person would be prepared already…All the signs are right in front of your eyes…but too many of you are seeing nothing but blurred lines.

  11. Some Beach says:

    If it doesn’t exist…seek funding….legalise marijuanna flat out…or legalise medical and license it…”the money is there and is behaviour modification” as a consequence of said license to be aplical to guests of abundance…-;)!

  12. Some Beach says:

    You have to have love to put up with the ship….we all endure…please be cogniscent of this…

  13. Some Beach says:


  14. bluwater says:

    Another union generated work stoppage. Shame.

  15. cup of tea anyone? says:

    The staff drank too much tea. everyone should know their limits when drinking tea.

    time for another tea!

  16. Balanced Facts says:

    PLP die hard civil servant throwing her teddy bear because of having to do some work! No authority to tale this action at all! Government must ensure that questions are processed!!!

  17. Some Beach says:

    I address both plp and oba when i say this
    …we have a got…that is about money…we see this by every one innit either has or has business and money in mind when elected or wishing to be…a great many came from no monet but when we vote them in they aquire vast amounts and are apparent in how quickly they aquire it…frm broke to filthy rich in one two or three terms…while we suffer…lose houses…and squabble for employment to pay bills or buy food…it has been a long time since we have haf basic needs as opposefd to the abundance we once had….it is disproportionate…and both plp and obà…we all feel dissenfranchised from ubpvand the ability to have that we once had…it felt like they had gotten to the point that they actually cared…from all those years they were satiated by making vast amounts of money good abd bad ways they actually did care for us…there was nothing else to fi…they were rich….so then they set out to actually provide for us but became an empathy to bordom and complacency toa thing of febauchery and beatings became entertainment on front street to be filmed and form of entertainment…for no legitimate reason…now we have two fresh poor engagements shadow and otherwise…i suppose we will have to wait untill you have enough for yourselves….again…before you pertain to us once again….think about this carefully…ballence yourselves to our needs and ackowledge we know and are fed up with waiting untill you yourselves have taken all before you actually….DO WHAT WE REQUIRE…of….you!

  18. starting point says:

    lol PLp stooge civil servant trying to cause strife, actually nothing to do with the Oba as they do not manage the speakers business.

    PLp can’t even get their sabotage right lol

  19. Rockfish#1 says:

    The tail is wagging the dog.

  20. cromwell says:

    This smacks of politics before Parliament has even opened!

    Good luck with the next session.

    What the clerk was trying to say(not well or appropriate)is that written questions that require a researched answer have issues not that there will be no “questions”.

    Unless the Speaker and agreed in advance with both parties he has not changed his mind. Questions will be allowed.

    • aceboy says:

      Even Plantation questions?

      • impressive. says:

        yes, plantation questions, and the ones that cause the individual to not answer and take up his marbles and leave the room.. all types of questions…

  21. Just a matter of time says:

    Since forever the Clerk, like many before her has been doing her job without anyone noticing. Here is an obvious cry for help and she’s vilified. The same goes for many civil servants. Year after year silently doing their jobs putting in long hours unnoticed by the public. Then let something happen. And this current Govt milks it and stands at the ready to throw civil servants under the bus. No appreciation. No gratitude. This current deep divide will only worsen….

    • Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

      If someone is frustrated and overwhelmed in their position, there are far better avenues for recourse than sending a message, completely outside their position, telling everyone they are not going to fulfill a part of their job for the forseeable future.

      There is no way that this person couldn’t have known the consequences of their action given the responsibility in question.

      Regardless of how well this person has done their job in the past, there are a number of questions that need to be posed to them at this time.

      And if they are overwhelmed with the volume of work, then assistance needs to be provided. Though, at this point, this person’s integrity is now in question and perhaps they need to move, or be moved, to a less taxing position.

  22. Just a matter of time says:

    People forget that the civil servants already lost key people within the last 2 years from the early retirement who couldn’t be replaced. Mix that with this Govt’s carte blanch total hiring freeze with no plan and what do you get? A nice cocktail mix of organizational confusion and plenty of pissed off loyal civil servants as a result who are trying to do their jobs. The easy scapegoat for this Govt and their vitriolic supporters is to blame the civil servants. The OBA is a ship without a mast drifting around to wherever the current takes them. Their current austerity measure is obviously not working! And across jurisdictions experience shows they usually don’t.

    • Double S says:

      Again the hiring freeze proposed and agreed by the BTUC to avoid a furlough day?

    • jt says:

      There are plenty of CS available to reassign to this.

  23. navin johnson says:

    I like it when there is no Parliament in session…who needs them?…..we are broke and continue to suffer from the PLP…who bought the dinky trash trucks? that’s rhetororical of course it was the PLP probably under a 10% deal…we will pay for their time in office for generations and they still want to ask questions? another example of where the $800,000,000.00 went…tinker toy trash trucks….most likely the unions want overtime to collect the trash….I digress…..

  24. Coffee says:

    What a desperate move by the government ! Move some of that $77million immediately ! Get KPMG to process parliamentary questions . The UBP/OBA used them to great effect in speeding up the PRC /STATUS process for the foreigners .

    • Smh says:

      Grow up you idjuit

    • Zevon says:

      Privatize it? Yeah, probably a good idea. That way things will actually get done, and cost less.

  25. Northshore says:

    Who is responsible for this? Everyone knows its not the OBA Government,except of course Coffee and his useless PLP NOISE MAKERS!

    Please OBA, get more Ex-Pats in, 1000`s of them!

  26. Unbelievable says:

    How much you want to bet that this will be used at the next election as a way to discredit the OBA?

  27. Terry says:

    Well well.
    Who closes the house more often than the PLP.
    They walk out all the time.
    A House is not a home………..
    Follow the money.

  28. hoodrich says:

    Just legalize gay marriage and all problems will be solved

  29. Cup Of Tea Anyone? says:

    well well well….Looks like ernie forgot to remind Burt to clarify before going to the press.

    what a numpty this guy is. hey Burt, stop throwing your toys out the pram at the first sight of danger.