Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Pearnel to take the Speaker's chair

Published:Tuesday | March 8, 2016 | 3:00 AMGary Spaulding & Edmond Campbell
Pearnel Charles

At the age of 80, Pearnel Patro Charles believes he is up to the task to preside over what could sometimes be turbulent sittings of the House of Representatives.

Charles has been given the nod by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to take the speaker's chair in Parliament.

Yesterday, Charles was among the scores of family members and well-wishers who gathered at King's House to cheer on the new ministers of government who were sworn in by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen.

It was a special moment for Charles, who watched his son, Pearnel Charles Jr, being sworn in as state minister for national security.

The elder Charles stepped forward and embraced and congratulated his son, who will sit in the Senate.

The veteran Charles believes his 50 years of political life, including seven terms as member of parliament, has prepared him for the task.

"I have just looked up to discover that in the last term of four years, I have never been absent - I have a perfect record. If you go back to the Senate, I have a perfect record. I think it is because of that they asked me to be the speaker of the House."

 

BEST PARLIAMENT

He added: "This is going to be the best Parliament that we have had for many years. We are going to return to a Parliament where people respect one another, where we operate as parliamentarians. I expect that I am going to get the cooperation of my colleagues."

Asked what his first order of business would be as speaker, Charles said: "I am going to wait until I fight them off to get into the chair."

His reference was to a parliamentary tradition where the nominated speaker shows great resistance before yielding to take his seat.

Charles pledged to engage members in a spirit of cooperation and "respect parliamentarians regardless of the party they represent".

During yesterday's swearing-in ceremony, Douglas Vaz, who on more than one occasion took the spotlight as a Cabinet member, was on hand to witness a similar oath being taken by his son, Daryl.