House Speaker Lectures Parliamentarians!
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.