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Speaker Willock calls for practice of Co-equal Branches of Government

Against the backdrop of a Special Sitting by the House of Assembly (HoA) to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the restoration of the Legislature [December 3, 1950] in the Virgin Islands, Speaker of the HoA, Hon Julian Willock made some pointed statements during his announcement in the Legislature.

It was at the Fourth Sitting of the Third Session of the Fourth HoA on Friday, December 2, 2020, when the Speaker was asked to share some observations.

Hon Willock noted, “we often hear that there are three co-equal branches of Government; the Legislative, the Executive and the Judicial.”

The Speaker further highlighted, “In our case, according to the Constitution, the Governor is Head of the Executive Branch, the Speaker is Head of the Legislative and the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court is the Head of our Judicial Branch.”

Treat us fairly- Speaker Willock

The Speaker also told Members of the HoA, “70 years later, I have observed that this co-equal arrangement is not always practised. Often, the Executive and Judicial [branches] are given some inherent tools that are not always afforded to the Legislative Branch.

After all, it is the Legislative Branch that passes the Appropriation Bill, which results in the funding of the other two branches, Hon Willock lamented.

The Speaker mentioned a situation where “Almost 19 months ago while the public debated the security afforded to our Head of Government and Premier, there was never a dispute over both the Governor and Chief Justice being afforded the same security, which we support.”

The Head of the Legislature stated that “it speaks to a different standard or, might I say, interpretation of co-equal branches of government. While the other two branches are allowed to have the tools that come with the office, for us in the Legislative Branch, it continues to be a struggle”

No special treatment but equal treatment-Willock

To avoid inaccurate media headlines, Hon Willock noted that he was not requesting special privilege or treatment for elected Members. “All the Speaker is requesting is that the concept of co-equal branches of government is put into practice and respected.”

He noted that while he understands the Legislative branch is made up of persons who are with the common men and women, “I still believe that the office of all of the 15 Members of this Honourable House, after 70 years, must be given the respect and courtesies due.”

Hon Willock was sworn in as Speaker of the Fourth HoA on March 12, 2019, after an election by elected Members. He was nominated unopposed.


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