Tue | Oct 16, 2018

Warmington retreats after strong opposition to controversial motion

Published:Saturday | February 17, 2018 | 12:00 AMBrian Walker/Staff Reporter
Everald Warmington

Acting Leader of the House Everald Warmington tried to move a motion on Thursday in the Lower House to reverse a decision by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding in 2007 that allows the Opposition to name members to chair oversight committees.

The move would have allowed committee members to select their own chairperson, which could be drawn from the Government. Golding said the idea behind the current framework was to bolster the Opposition's effectiveness in Parliament.

Leader of Opposition Business Phillip Paulwell described the motion as a "backward step", pointing out that committees were dominated by the Government.

"There are a number of committees that, over the last decade, have been chaired by the Opposition, and I want to ensure, and to insist, that we retain that as a good model as it has worked over three administrations," asserted Paulwell.

Opposition members Mark Golding, Wykeham McNeill, Peter Bunting, and Mikael Phillips chair the public accounts, public administration and appropriations, internal and external affairs, and infrastructure and development committees, respectively.

Although both sides have embraced the position, it was not formalised through an amendment to the Standing Orders.

Warmington argued: "The committees, in strict accordance with the provision of Section 75, 3 of the Standing Orders, will elect its chairman. What's wrong with democracy?"

The House took a break and Prime Minister Andrew Holness, along with senior government members, went outside. Later, Warmington retreated by saying, "Mr Speaker, after consultation, I wish to withdraw the motion I moved earlier until a later date."

brian.walker@gleanerjm.com