House Speaker Lec­tures Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Star Re­porter

Were this any­where else jaws would have dropped sev­eral times dur­ing Tues­day’s House ses­sion. But for many who wit­nessed it, the toss­ing of un­par­lia­men­tary brick­bats around the cham­ber was, well, busi­ness as usual. Dur­ing the sec­ond half of the ses­sion that saw the pass­ing of var­i­ous bills and mo­tions in­clud­ing one to au­tho­rize the Min­is­ter for Fi­nance to bor­row US$2,860,000 from the Caribbean De­vel­op­ment Bank’s Spe­cial Fund Re­sources (SFR) to fi­nance the Youth Em­pow­er­ment Project, MPs from both sides of the House hurled in­sults across the floor. Mean­while House Speaker Leonne Theodore John tried des­per­ately to re­store or­der.

Al­most from her first ses­sion in the chair, the House Speaker had been warn­ing MPs about the gen­er­ated fish mar­ket at­mos­phere. Es­pe­cially re­mark­able was Tues­day’s tit-for-tat be­tween the Op­po­si­tion’s Ernest Hi­lare and the mem­ber for Anse la Raye-Ca­naries, also tourism min­is­ter. At one point Hi­laire fired back: “I can speak for the hon­or­able peo­ple on this side, un­like the oth­ers on the other side.” Then there was the back and forth be­tween the two MPs, this time about cricket. The Speaker ob­jected at one point to in­ces­sant use of “these fel­las”. At the Speaker’s be­hest the tourism min­is­ter is­sued a half-dead apol­ogy.

The mayp­wis con­tin­ued un­til for the umpteenth time the House Speaker in­ter­jected: Hon­or­able mem­bers had taken the pi­cong ex­cuse a mile too far. She wanted them to un­der­stand the public was “al­ways watch­ing”. Hyper­bolic, yes, but who no­ticed? She added that she was fed up with hav­ing to carry on like a school teacher with re­gard to MPs that so­ci­ety should be look­ing up to.

“Many per­sons here,” she said, “al­most all, are older than I am. Con­duct your­selves ac­cord­ingly, and have re­spect for one another. You hold the high­est of­fices of the land, and I im­plore you to act in ac­cor­dance with that.”

Mostly, the pro­ceed­ings pro­gressed af­ter that with­out a hitch, with new sen­a­tor, Ti­mothy Man­gal, tak­ing the Oath of Al­le­giance. The ses­sions also saw Par­lia­ment au­tho­rize a mo­tion for the Min­is­ter for Fi­nance to guar­an­tee an amount not ex­ceed­ing EC$15,804,355.01, to se­cure a pay­ment con­tract awarded to Fresh Start Con­struc­tion Com­pany Lim­ited for the pur­pose of fi­nanc­ing the Mi­coud Road Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Project – Du­gard to Des­ruis­seaux Road Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Works.

Bills pre­sented by the Prime Min­is­ter in­cluded the Au­to­matic Ex­change of Fi­nan­cial Ac­count In­for­ma­tion (Amend­ment), Public Fi­nance Man­age­ment, and the Au­to­matic Ex­change of Fi­nan­cial Ac­count In­for­ma­tion (Amend­ment).

Through­out this week’s sit­ting of Par­lia­ment, the un­der­tone cen­tred around in­vest­ment – how best to at­tract it, and the ar­eas that had suf­fered as a re­sult of the con­trary. The prob­lems fac­ing the coun­try were sim­ple, there was need for more rev­enue to spend on schools, hos­pi­tals, hous­ing, and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment. Hope­fully, mem­bers will heed the Speaker’s ad­vice so more time can be spent on find­ing so­lu­tions to the ac­tual prob­lems fac­ing the coun­try!

House Speaker Leonne Theodore John has again reg­is­tered her dis­ap­point­ment in the be­hav­iour of Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans in the House.

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