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Jul 19 - Hassan Nahon: “Unclear” Housing Act Amendment Points To “Failure Of The Barristocracy”

Independent MP Marlene Hassan Nahon has said that the passing of “unclear” and “inaccurate” legislation in Parliament “spells yet another failure of the barristocracy”.

Ms Hassan Nahon argues that the judgment of the Court of Appeal regarding the passing of the amended Housing Act 2013, which declares this amendment to be unconstitutional, raises serious concerns about certain governmental practices but also about the quality of Gibraltar’s parliamentary checks and balances.

Ms Hassan Nahon said: “It must be noted that this decision is the product of an appeal from the Rent Tribunal, after a ruling from the Supreme Court in favour of Mr. Balban, who, before becoming a Minister, sought to have his rent reduced to controlled fixed rates.

“As per the court’s ruling, this legislation was passed without explaining its real intentions, without plausible justification for these intentions, without mention to social policy or the general public good and without openly disclosing the practical consequences of the amendment.

“If the Government ́s real intentions were, once again, buried under a heap of misguiding legalistic jargon, then it is either a case of incompetence or one of dishonesty. Either way it is a serious issue, and one that should not be dealt in the usual haughty, dismissive terms. The fact that Minister Balban, once a minster, chose to pay the higher rate despite having sought this amendment before being a minster, hardly remedies the corollaries of this issue. Neither does the fact that he communicated his conflict of interest while this misguiding piece of legislation was being discussed. We cannot depend on voluntary acts of good will to stop bad practices from happening. These must be enshrined in law and enforced at all levels.

“If the Government wants to really do something about the housing bubble currently affecting Gibraltar, drafting seemingly “capricious” laws affecting a handful of tenants (one of which being the Minister for Housing) is clearly not the answer. It should have brought forward a comprehensive plan to ensure access to affordable housing for all local residents.

“As for the role of the Opposition, so much for the benefits of having a ruling “barristocracy” when unsound, unjustified and deliberately vague legislation slips right under the nose of reputed lawyers and QCs, of which there were four out of seven in Opposition at the time. Surely a degree of self-criticism is in order for having voted in favour of a law with such flagrant inconsistencies.”

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