Scotland: Opposition fails on crime

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


PORT of Spain South MP Keith Scotland said the UNC has failed in its duty as the parliament’s opposition on the issue of crime.

He made this statement during debate on a no-confidence motion against National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds.

Referring to the Parliament’s Hansard record, Scotland cited several instances when the Opposition failed to support legislation brought by Government to deal with crime.

He recalled that all Opposition MPs, including Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein (mover of the motion against Hinds), refused to support bail legislation which was aimed at ensuring that repeat offenders of serious crimes could not easily access bail.

Scotland was surprised at the timerity of Hosein in those circumstances to be accusing Hinds of doing nothing to curb crime.

Government MPs thumped their desks as Scotland declared, “The PNM is serious about fighting crime in TT.”

He said this commitment was the same in and out of government.

Scotland reminded UNC MPs that it was the UNC-led People’s Partnership coalition government which disbanded the Special Anti Crime Unit which was created to deal with certain serious crimes.

In contrast, Scotland said the PNM reestablished the police marine unit and is providing resources to the police service to help them to fight crime.

As he outlined programmes being offered by other government ministries to address social factors that contribute to crime, Hosein complained that this was irrelevant to the motion against Hinds.

Deputy Spealer Esmond Forde overruled Hosein’s complaints.

Scotland was also proud as an MP to be collaborating with the police in the Gang Reduction and Community Project (GRACE), to help keep young people in his constituency out of a life of crime.

He said this initiative happened under Hinds and is having benefits in different communities.

The House will next sit on May 29 at 1.30 to debate legislation to validate the operations of local government corporations between December 3, 2022 to May 18.

This was the period in which the life of local government corporations was extended by one year.

On May 18, the Privy Council ruled that the judgment was unlawful but did not breach the Constitution or deprive people of the right to vote.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister said once this legislation is passed, a date for local government elections will be announced.

Dr Rowley hinted that date could be within three months of May 18.