At last Monday’s sitting of the House of Representatives, House Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George invited
Princes Town MP Barry Padarath to “take a little walk,” apparently seizing on the opportunity to invoke Section 53 of the Standing Orders.
But once again, her interpretation of the Standing Orders may very well be interpreted as demonstrating biased against an opposition MP.
Under Standing Order 53, No 32-2, it states:
“The Speaker shall draw the attention of the House to any Member who, despite warning, persists in breaching any provision of this Standing Order and may thereafter take action in accordance with Standing Order 55 (Order in the House and in Committee) ”
Having viewed the entire proceedings, the Speaker did not issue any warning prior to the Princes Town MP but rather a general warning was issued to all MPs, both Government and Opposition.
Then, out of the blue, the Princes Town MP is instructed by the Speaker to “take a little walk”. I have been trying to find such a command in the Standing Orders without any success.
Even after making such an ill-advised and far-fetched order, why was she selective in her so-called enforcement of the rules. The red shirts can insult and taunt Opposition members and behave as though they have absolute authority in the House to do as they please, make the most condescending, pejorative and misguided comments to the Opposition MPs in general, and MP Padarath in particular but the Opposition MPs are usually the ones feeling the wrath of this Speaker, who appears to be always leaning too far towards the ruling party instead of remaining and being a politically impartial referee.
To his credit, MP Padarath did not challenge the instruction of the Speaker since as he said, he did not wish to derail in any way the Budget presentation so he just walked out and walked back in.
The debate on the 2017-2018 budget begins on Friday and I hope that Speaker Annisette-George will treat each of the 41 elected men and women with equal respect and cordiality and allow them the unfettered opportunity to do the job they were elected to do by the people who voted them to be their parliamentary representatives.
Once the Chair of the proceedings adopt a cordial attitude instead appearing to be confrontational and partisan, it will ease the tension that currently exists between the Government and Opposition.
It’s time to get it right Madam Speaker.Capil Bissoon