Speaker says will decide next week if Harmon’s No-Confidence Motions ‘properly qualify’
Declaring that he was not opposed to allowing debates on ‘properly qualifying motions’, Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir on Friday said he will make a decision early in the new week on the next steps for two No-Confidence Motions filed by Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon.
On Tuesday, Harmon delivered the motions to the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, calling into question the performance of the Minister of Health and the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr. Frank Anthony and Robeson Benn.
When contacted by the News Room on Friday, Speaker Nadir confirmed that the motions were with him for his consideration and he was “still looking at it.”
“Basically there are a couple of issues to be addressed but I have no problem with motions, I’m not saying No-Confidence Motions, but properly qualifying motions going on the Order Paper,” the Speaker added.
During the telephone interview, Speaker Nadir reminded that he is no stranger to No-Confidence Motions, having been exposed during his tenure as a Member of Parliament.
In 2010, while serving as the Minister of Labour under the People’s Progressive Party government, a No-Confidence Motion was filed by the then People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) opposition against Nadir.
That motion was initially rejected by the then Speaker, Ralph Ramkarran on the basis of its wording. Ramkarran had outlined a number of amendments that were required and upon compliance, the motion was resubmitted.
The government side of the House had roundly defeated the motion by a 34-20 majority.
Meanwhile, President Irfaan Ali has already criticised the ‘one-line documents’ filed by Harmon against the two sitting ministers, as lacking effort and as a consequence, lost their meaningfulness.
“If you are going to do something meaningful you should put effort [into] it. Have you seen it? The motion is one line. They didn’t spend time to put effort.
“It is just political drama and it has no thinking or structure or work behind it… it’s just political drama and I don’t have time for that,” the President said at the sidelines of an event on Wednesday.
In any event, government MPs have already begun to defend the performance of their colleague ministers and have said they are prepared to defend same during a parliamentary debate should the motions make its way onto the Order Paper.
Even so, a debate will do little to have the two ministers removed given the government’s one-seat majority in the House.
Back in 2012, then Opposition Leader and now former President, David Granger had tabled a Motion of No-Confidence against government minister, Clement Rohee.
Although the parliamentary opposition had passed the motion using the one-seat majority it held, Rohee continued to sit in the National Assembly. With the Opposition insisting on barring Rohee from participating in the business of the House, the No Confidence vote was challenged in Court.
Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs, Gail Teixeira recalled that incident on Wednesday, reminding that it is only by using the Recall Legislation that a Minister of the Government can be removed.
According to Teixeira, an MP can only be removed if that person has died, becomes incapacitated, mentally unfit, or when the party they represent no longer has confidence in them.
The legislation states that only the political leader of a list of candidates that contested the general and regional elections can remove an MP after “meaningful consultation” at the party level; in this case, it would be the President, Dr Irfaan Ali, who can remove either Benn or Dr Anthony.