Julian Fraser read the motion for the policy during the House of Assembly meeting. (Photo: SCREENSHOT)

Last month the House of Assembly approved a policy that legislators said will facilitate funding for staffed constituency offices in each district, but the policy has not yet been made public and the projected cost of the offices wasn’t disclosed.

During an HOA meeting on Nov. 24, members passed a motion introduced by Opposition Leader Julian Fraser to approve the “Policy on Constituency Offices” prepared by the HOA Committee of Privileges.

While reading the motion, Mr. Fraser, the committee chair, said the policy will “enhance the delivery of access and ensure that members are afforded the tools and means necessary to serve their constituency.”

He added, “This initiative will allow for the operation of a constituency office in each district with staff intended to serve as the member’s dissemination hub in the execution of his or her parliamentary duties and at the same time provide a meeting place for the member and his or her constituents.”

Lawmakers didn’t specify which representatives would get offices in what locations, where the funding would come from, or how much funding the offices would require.

Though they promised the policy would be made public after it was passed, it had not been Gazetted as of Beacon press time yesterday afternoon, and efforts to obtain it from the HOA were not successful.

After Mr. Fraser read the motion, he and other HOA members spoke briefly in support of the policy.

The opposition leader ex- plained that it was designed to be consistent with Section 82 of the 2007 Constitution, which deals with the privileges, immunities and powers of HOA members.

The policy includes 10 chapters covering various areas, according to Mr. Fraser: governing principles; budgets; general conditions of the policy rules; hospitality and gifts; advertising and website; office support; staffing; winding up costs and payments upon losing office; other support and miscellaneous costs; and financial assistance.

Mr. Fraser thanked Deputy Speaker Neville Smith and Health and Social Development Minister Marlon Penn, who also serve on the committee, for the time they put into the policy; Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley and Speaker of the House Corine George-Massicote for appointing a committee that worked on the policy; and the Attorney General’s Chambers for ensuring that the policy was in line with the laws of the territory.

Not in each district

Government backbencher Vincent Wheatley (R-D9) said that the constituency offices currently aren’t in every district.

“I hope all the at-large members use the opportunity, use the funding, to have greater presence in all the districts, particularly those outside of Tortola,” he said. Dr. Wheatley (R-D7) commended Mr. Fraser, stating that he had thought the District Three representative would be the appropriate person to lead the effort. He added that Mr. Fraser has held a constituency office in his district for “many, many

“I’m passionate about the reality that we must give a certain level of service to our constituents,” the premier said. “We have to give respect to our constituents, to give them a proper office where they can come and meet their needs.”

He then asked the speaker to allow the HOA members to recess and address “one or two matters” relating to the policy.

The sitting then went into re- cess. After the recess, Mr. Penn (R-D8) said the policy was “long in coming” and represented a “new era” of being “clear, transparent, and clearly documenting the way forward.”

“We were able to go through very extensively a clear framework, a transparent framework that outlines how all these constituency offices should function; and for the first time create clear documentation and a clear, clear process,” he said. “We are elected to serve people. We have a responsibility to serve our people with the highest level of integrity.”

Opposition member Carvin Malone (R-at large) also expressed his support.