Edghill back in House Tuesday
By Bibi Khatoon
Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland has made it clear that Opposition Member of Parliament, Juan Edghill was suspended from the business of the house for just Monday, December 11, 2017.
While the speaker did not revisit the Chambers of the National Assembly to adjourn Monday’s sitting at 22:00hrs, he hosted a Press Conference.
Reading from a prepared statement, the Speaker outlined the he ordered the Opposition MP to take his seat when he attempted to ask questions on a specific line item during the consideration of estimates on Monday because the time allotted for that agency under consideration was expired.
He further noted that he ordered the MP to exit the Chambers after he refused to obey the first request and having again disobeyed the Speaker, the Sergeant of Arms was called on to escort the MP from the Chambers.
The Speaker then retreated to his Chambers.
All of this he said was done in tandem with the Standing orders of Parliament which he read to those gathered adding that “the standing orders have existed for years and all members must abide by so these are not creations or new things. They exist before today.”
However, the Speaker told media operatives that he did not call in the police. In fact, he said “I didn’t know the police was here until I saw them.”
Despite saying he had no part to play in the police storming the Chambers in a bid to remove Edghill and allegedly injuring female opposition members who had surrounded him at the time, the Speaker also told media operatives that he does not see the need for an investigation into what transpired.
It is the first time in history that police officers barged into the Chambers of the Parliament to remove a parliamentarian from a sitting.
Allotted time for agencies
The Speaker was asked whether given today’s issues, if he will be allowing more time when needed. However, he made it clear that the stipulated time was agreed to, by both sides of the House prior to the commencement of the consideration of estimates.
“You’ll recall that this began with my telling everyone, not once, not twice, on every occasion that this came up, and that’s since last week, that we are allotting time for agencies and when that time is expired, w e will move to the next agency, after I put the question, that hasn’t changed.”
He added that there are agencies which moved from one point to another without hindrances.
However, it must be noted that some agencies consists of more controversial line items e.g. today’s consideration saw several questions being raised about the $68 million subsidy to a body for the United Nations Decade for People of African Descent.
Order for media to leave chambers
The Speaker denied that he ordered media operatives to leave the Chambers of the Parliament on Monday .
It was reported that the Dr. Scotland through Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs ordered that media operatives exit the Chambers shortly after he himself left.
However, during Monday evening’s press conference, the Speaker said he simply asked that the media be notified that they can leave since the sitting of the Jouse will not resume.
“I heard that the media is still there and I said we’re not going to sit again and they must know we’re not going to sit again…I didn’t order.”
Investigation into other issues
The Speaker was also questioned about the recent intruding of someone said to be a Government Minister’s secretary dressed as Santa Claus into the Chambers of Parliament. Asked whether he believes that such occurrences should be addressed either through meetings with leaders of both sides or otherwise, he said he does not see how a meeting will address the issue.
However, he did not offer another suggestion on how the matters will be addressed.
The Speaker also sought to dispel claims that he is biased noting that “same members who trumpet about bias say other things not so loud.”
He added that “I’m not a speaker to satisfy one side against another… I am here to act fairly as I see my duty…if I have to upbraid you, I will do it.”
During the remainder of the afternoon, the People’s Progressive Party’s members engaged in a sit-in in the Chambers up until 22:00hrs when the business of the house was scheduled to conclude according to the standing orders. This was done despite the lights, WIFI and Air Conditioning units being turned off. At one point the MPs even tried to take lamps which they purchased into the chambers but was prevented from doing so by the security personnel and police officers who seized the lamps on entrance to the building.
A meeting was also hosted between the Speaker and the Opposition leader at this time but no agreement was reached.
Since the business of the House was not adjourned today since the Speaker did not re-enter the Chambers to do same, the sitting will continue tomorrow.