Consultative Council poised for inaugural meeting – without Clinton
The new Leader of the Opposition, Roy Clinton, will not attend the inaugural meeting of the Gibraltar Consultative Council on Monday, he said last night.
The aim of the council is to provide the Chief Minister with a sounding board of the best brains in Gibraltar on key issues of the day.
But members are sworn to secrecy and the GSD feels this could potentially act as a restraint on its ability to conduct opposition politics, hence Mr Clinton’s decision.
The GSD had criticised the establishment of the council in Parliament when a Bill for its formation was brought before the House by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo in October of last year.
The then Leader of the Opposition, Daniel Feetham, had described it as a “dangerous retrograde step”, flagging secrecy clauses contained within the Bill.
Despite the GSD’s strong opposition the Bill was passed and the first meeting is due to be held on Monday at No. 6 Convent Place.
The position of the GSD has not changed and Mr Clinton indicated yesterday that he will not attend the meeting.
In response to questions from the Chronicle, the Gibraltar Government issued a statement confirming that Mr Picardo had reached out to Mr Clinton and personally invited him to the meeting despite the position taken by Mr Feetham.
“Mr Clinton has, however, declined the invitation on the grounds that it remains GSD policy not to attend,” the statement read.
The GSD yesterday confirmed its position and said: “…the legislation contains an oath and secrecy provisions, upon pain of imprisonment, that may hamper and potentially stifle the ability of the Leader of the Opposition to undertake his function in holding the Government to account.”
Mr Clinton said: “The Chief Minister called me today to invite me to the inaugural meeting of the Consultative Council on Monday.”
“I explained to the Chief Minister the GSD’s current party position is that the Leader of the Opposition could not attend the Council and assured him that I would always be available to meet with him, on a bilateral basis outside the secrecy restrictions of the Council, on any matter of national importance that he may wish to discuss.”
Despite the GSD’s position, the Chief Minister said he was very pleased that the Consultative Council was set to meet for the first time on Monday.
“I have been very keen to get the work of the Council going,” he said.
“This is a time in our history when we need to have all of Gibraltar’s best brains working together in the common interest of Gibraltar.”
“That is what the Council will set out to achieve.”
“It will provide a sounding board of advice for a Chief Minister on matters which transcend the party political and which are in the national interest of Gibraltar.”
“I am grateful to all those who are entitled to membership by virtue of the posts they hold or have held who have indicated that they are able to attend on Monday.”
“I will look forward to the meeting which I expect will concentrate on the future workings of the Council which I trust will endure long after I leave Government and the post of Chief Minister.”
The Government explained that the first meeting of the Council will include only “post holder members” and “life members” of the Council, that is to say, individuals who are members of the Council by virtue of posts they hold or have held.
Members of the Council who are appointed by the Chief Minister, or “ad hoc members” will be notified of the Chief Minister’s request to join the Council in coming weeks before a further meeting of the Council in the autumn.
Post holder members include the Chief Minister, the Deputy Chief Minister, the Minister for Justice and the Leader of the Opposition.
Life members are those individuals who have held the post of Chief Minister or Deputy Chief Minister.