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British Virgin Islands Constitution

Powers and Procedure

34. Subject to the provisions of this Order, the Legislature shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Virgin Islands.

35. Subject to the provisions of this Order, the Legislative Council may make, amend and revoke Standing Orders for the regulation and orderly conduct of its own proceedings and the despatch of business, and the passing, intituling and numbering of Bills and the presentation of the same to the Governor for assent.

36. No member of the Legislative Council shall be permitted to take part in the proceedings of the Council (other than proceedings necessary for the purposes of this section) until he has made and subscribed before the Council an oath or affirmation of allegiance in the form set out in the Schedule to this Order:

Provided that the election of a Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Council may take place before the members thereof have made such oath or affirmation.

37. (1) The Speaker or, in his absence, the Deputy Speaker or, if they are both absent, a member of the Legislative Council (not being a member of the Executive Council) elected by the Legislative Council for that sitting shall preside at each sitting of the Legislative Council.

(2) References in this section to circumstances in which the Speaker or Deputy Speaker is absent include references to circumstances in which the office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker is vacant.

38. (1) Subject to the provisions of this section and of section 32 (4) (c), all questions proposed for decision in the Legislative Council shall be determined by a majority of the votes of the members present and voting.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, only the elected members of the Council shall be entitled to vote in an election of the Speaker or Deputy Speaker or on a motion for the removal from office of the Speaker or Deputy Speaker or on a motion that the Legislative Council should declare a lack of confidence in the Government of the Virgin Islands.

(3) The person presiding shall not vote unless on any question the votes are equally divided in which case he shall have and exercise a casting vote:

Provided that where the motion before the Council is one to which subsection (2) of this section applies the person presiding shall not have a casting vote unless he is an elected member.

(4) In the event of an equality of votes on any question the motion shall be lost.

39. The Legislative Council shall not be disqualified for the transaction of business by reason of any vacancy in the membership thereof (including any vacancy not filled when the Council is first constituted or is reconstituted at any time), and any proceedings therein shall be valid notwithstanding that some person who was not entitled so to do sat or voted in the Council or otherwise took part in the proceedings.

40. (1) A quorum of the Legislative Council shall consist of seven members besides the person presiding at the sitting.

(2) If at any sitting of the Legislative Council any member who is present draws the attention of the person presiding at the sitting to the absence of a quorum and, after such interval as may be prescribed in the Standing Orders of the Council, the person presiding at the sitting ascertains that a quorum of the Council is still not present, the Council shall be adjourned.

41. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Order and of the Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, any member may introduce any Bill or propose any motion for debate in, or may present any petition to, the Council, and the same shall be debated and disposed of according to the Standing Orders of the Council.

(2) Except on the recommendation of the Minister responsible for finance, the Legislative Council shall not -

a) proceed upon any Bill (including any amendment to a Bill) which, in the opinion of the person presiding in the Council, makes provision for imposing or increasing any tax, for imposing or increasing any charge on the revenues or other funds of the Virgin Islands or for altering any such charge otherwise than by reducing it or for compounding or remitting any debt due to the Virgin Islands; or

(b) proceed upon any motion (including any amendment to a motion) the effect of which, in the opinion of the person presiding in the Council, is that provision would be made for any of the purposes aforesaid.

42. (1) A Bill passed by the Legislative Council shall become a law when-

(a) the Governor has assented thereto in Her Majesty's name and on Her Majesty's behalf and has signed the same in token of such assent, or

(b) Her Majesty has given Her assent thereto through a Secretary of State and the Governor has signified such assent by proclamation published in the Gazette.

(2) When a Bill is presented to the Governor for assent he shall declare that he assents or refuses to assent thereto or that he reserves the Bill for the signification of Her Majesty's pleasure:

Provided that, unless he has been authorised by a Secretary of State to assent thereto, the Governor shall reserve for the signification of Her Majesty's pleasure any Bill which appears to him, acting in his discretion -

(a) to be inconsistent with any obligation of Her Majesty or of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom towards any other state or powers or any international organisation; or

(b) to be likely to prejudice the Royal prerogative; or

(c) to be in any way repugnant to or inconsistent with the provisions of this Order.

43. (1) Any law assented to by the Governor may be disallowed by Her Majesty through a Secretary of State.

(2) Whenever any law has been disallowed by Her Majesty the Governor shall cause notice of such disallowance to be published in the Gazette and the law shall be annulled with effect from the date of publication of that notice.

(3) On the annulment of any law under this section, any enactment repealed or amended by or in pursuance of that law shall have effect as from the date of the annulment as if that law had not been made; but save as provided by the foregoing provisions of this subsection, section 38 (2) of the Interpretation Act 1889 shall apply to that annulment as it applies to the repeal of an Act of Parliament.

44. (1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (2) of this section, if the Governor considers that it is necessary or expedient for the purposes of any of the matters for which he is responsible under section 19 of this Order that any Bill introduced, or any motion proposed, in the Legislative Council should have effect, then, if the Legislative Council fails to pass such a Bill or motion within such time and in such form as the Governor may think reasonable and expedient, the Governor may, at any time that he thinks fit, and notwithstanding any provisions of this Order or of any Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, declare that such Bill or motion shall have effect as if it had been passed or carried by the Legislative Council, either in the form in which it was so introduced or proposed or with such amendments as the Governor shall think fit which have been proposed in the Legislative Council or in any committee thereof; and thereupon the said Bill or motion shall have effect as if it had been so passed or carried, and, in the case of any such Bill, the provisions of this Order relating to assent to Bills and disallowance of laws shall have effect accordingly. (1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (2) of this section, if the Governor considers that it is necessary or expedient for the purposes of any of the matters for which he is responsible under section 19 of this Order that any Bill introduced, or any motion proposed, in the Legislative Council should have effect, then, if the Legislative Council fails to pass such a Bill or motion within such time and in such form as the Governor may think reasonable and expedient, the Governor may, at any time that he thinks fit, and notwithstanding any provisions of this Order or of any Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, declare that such Bill or motion shall have effect as if it had been passed or carried by the Legislative Council, either in the form in which it was so introduced or proposed or with such amendments as the Governor shall think fit which have been proposed in the Legislative Council or in any committee thereof; and thereupon the said Bill or motion shall have effect as if it had been so passed or carried, and, in the case of any such Bill, the provisions of this Order relating to assent to Bills and disallowance of laws shall have effect accordingly.

(2) The Governor shall not make any declaration under this section except in accordance with the following conditions, that is to say

(a) the question whether the declaration should be made shall first be submitted in writing by the Governor to the Executive Council and if, upon the question being so submitted to it, the Executive Council advises him that the declaration should be made, the Governor may make the declaration;

(b) if, when the question whether the declaration should be made is submitted to it as aforesaid, the Executive Council does not, within such time as the Governor thinks reasonable and expedient, advise him that the declaration should be made, then -

(i) the Governor may submit the said question to a Secretary of State and may make the declaration if, upon the question being so submitted to him, a Secretary of State authorises the Governor to make the declaration; or

(ii) the Governor may make the declaration without submitting the said question to a Secretary of State if, in the Governor's opinion, urgent necessity requires that the declaration be made without obtaining the authority of a Secretary of State; in which case he shall, at the time of making the declaration, certify in writing that urgent necessity requires that the declaration be made without obtaining such authority.

(3) (a) Whenever the Governor, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) (b) of this section, submits to a Secretary of State the question whether a declaration should be made, or makes a declaration without submitting the said question to a Secretary of State, he shall inform the Executive Council in writing of his reasons for so doing.

(b) Whenever the Governor makes a declaration under this section, other than a declaration made with the authority of a Secretary of State, he shall forthwith report to a Secretary of State the making of, and the reasons for, the declaration and, in the case of a declaration made in accordance with the provisions of sub-paragraph (ii) of subsection (2) (b) of this section, the grounds of urgency.

(4) If any member of the Legislative Council objects to any declaration made under this section, he may, within seven days of the making thereof, submit to the Governor a statement in writing of his reasons for so objecting; and a copy of such statement shall, if furnished by such member, be forwarded by the Governor as soon as practicable to a Secretary of State.

(5) Any declaration made under this section that relates to a motion may be revoked by a Secretary of State, and the Governor shall cause notice of such revocation to be published in the Gazette; and from the date of such publication any motion which has effect by virtue of the declaration shall cease to have effect, and section 38 (2) of the Interpretation Act 1889 shall apply to the revocation as it applies to the repeal of an Act of Parliament.

(6) The powers conferred on the Governor by subsections (1) and (2) of this section shall be exercised by him in his discretion.

45. The Legislature may by law determine and regulate the privileges, immunities and powers of the Legislative Council and the members thereof, but no such privileges, immunities or powers shall exceed those of the Commons' House of Parliament of the United Kingdom or of the members thereof.