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Secretaries Answers to Questions


Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer.

27. The Minority Councillor asked the Secretary of Community Development, Youth Development and Sport the following question:

“As it relates to the provision of legal consultation services at the Division, can the Secretary confirm the following:

a. Does the Division have a legal staff engaged?

b. What are the positions within the legal team at the Division;

a. Has the Division engaged the services of an external legal consultant; and

b. What are the terms of engagement, including the period and cost of  the engagement?”

Thank you, Madam   Presiding Officer, and good afternoon to all my

Colleagues and everybody else in the House. The question   as posed:

   As to Part (a) - Does the Division have a legal staff engaged? The  answer is ‘yes’.

   Part (b) - What are the positions within the legal team at the Division?

As per Executive Council No. 109 of March 16th, 2016 approved, was the creation of a legal team comprising of one Legal  Officer 2, and one Paralegal. At this point, the Division just has one Legal Officer 2.

   Part (c) - Has the Division engaged the services of an   external legal consultant? The answer is, yes.

    Part (d) - What are the terms of engagement including the   period and cost of the engagement?

    Term 1 - Advice on the legal obligations of the Tobago   House of Assembly as it relates to the employees of the Community-based   Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP).

    Term 2 - Drafting and settlement of termination letters   relative to the restructuring of the Programme.

    Term 3 - Advise on the draft of a new form of contract for   employees to be hired in the newly reorganized CEPEP.

    Term 4 - Advise on the potential legal implications for   the Tobago House of Assembly as a result of the restructuring of the CEPEP ;   and

    Term 5 - Any other related material that may be requested   during this consultancy.

    The period of engagement was one (1) month in the first   instance and to date the consultant has been paid the sum of twenty-nine thousand, one hundred and twenty dollars ($29,120.00), VAT inclusive.

Honourable   Members, before we proceed into any supplementary question, in accordance   with Standing Order, 26 (2), I am going to allow for the purpose of   elucidation only, three (3) supplementary questions.

Thank you.

Madam Presiding Officer, the Standing Order clearly states that it is at your discretion.

...and my discretion is three (3) supplementary questions.

Why limit us to three (3)? If there is an issue that requires some elucidation...

Minority Leader,  three (3) supplementary questions. Thank you.

Are there any   supplementary questions Minority Councillor?

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer. I am not sure if I heard the Member correctly, but one of the terms he outlined was to provide services for the Tobago House of Assembly. Is it to the Tobago House of Assembly or to the Division? I did not hear him clearly.

Yes. So the first part, it said, that the legal obligation - well, of course, the Division of Community Development is a subsidiary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).

Minority Councillor.

Madam Presiding Officer, the Member indicated that the external legal consultant was engaged for one (1) month. Is that engagement still in place and when is the engagement expected to end?

So how long has or will this legal external consultant be engaged, Madam Presiding Officer?

     Madam Presiding Officer, in light of the premise that   there is a Legal Officer 2 in the Division, as well as the Office of the   Senior State Counsel, was there a real need to engage this legal consultant   in the tune of twenty- nine thousand dollars ($29,000.00) for one (1) month   approximately and what is the further extended period that may be   anticipated?

You have about three (3) questions in that, but I think Assemblyman Baynes...

Well, I think that   is a presumptuous position to have. I mean, the Division reserves the right  as it sees fit with the matter before it, to make these types of decisions.So I do not know how I am supposed to respond to that. It is an opinion that   is being expressed and to my mind, that is a presumption.

Madam Presiding Officer, I am asking a question, I am not   making a presumption.

I did not make a   presumption; I asked a question.

What is the question that has been asked, Madam Presiding Officer?

Can you kindly   repeat the question for clarity to Secretary Baynes, please?

So Madam Presiding   Officer, part of the question requires the Member to indicate the legal team.   The Assemblyman indicated that there is a Legal Officer 2 in the Division of   Community Development. We are also aware that there is the Office of the   Senior State Counsel, that a number of legal personnel are employed there. So   we are wondering in the first instance, why was there a need to engage an   external legal consultant in the sum of twenty-nine thousand plus dollars   ($29,000.00+) and how long is this engagement expected. The Member said it is   for one (1) month. Will it go on indefinitely? What is the expected timeframe   that we will be engaging this person for this sum, Madam Presiding Officer? I   did not make a presumption, I asked a question.

Secretary   Baynes.

2.00 P.M.

One month in the   first instance and the issue about the internal legal officer and the senior  legal officer and so forth, we felt because of how delicate the matter was,   that there was a need for us to have an external legal mind on this matter.

Question No. 28 to the Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection.

11th Plenary Sitting Tobago House of Assembly 2021 - 2025 Session


24 November 2022
Supplemental question to the main question :
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