Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Lawmakers caught napping

Published:Monday | October 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju

Last week's meeting of the Constituency Boundaries Committee, though lasting only 13 minutes and with only the formality of members signing off on a report to be submitted to Parliament on the agenda, created quite a stir.

Called to order at 1:49 p.m., some 19 minutes after the scheduled 1:30 p.m. start and with Parliament due to convene at 2:00 p.m. it was always going to be a race against time.

Five minutes after the meeting started, committee members Everald Warmington, Noel Arscott and chairman Pearnel Charles were joined by Fitz Jackson, with Delroy Chuck arriving at 1:56 p.m. and Karl Samuda dropping in a minute later.

The lawmakers, it seemed, had just enough time to affix their signatures to the report outlining their acceptance of the Electoral Office of Jamaica's (EOJ) findings in respect of St Andrew North East and Trelawny Southern. Committee members last month accepted the findings of the EOJ with respect to the realignment of those constituencies to correct several breaches which had resulted in them being short of the lower limit of electors. And the lawmakers had been unanimous in their rejection of the rest of the realignment of boundaries report on the grounds of inaccurate, contradictory and confusing information. However, last week, there seemed to have been some amount of confusion as to the purpose of the meeting.

It was Arscott, the member of parliament for South West Clarendon, who first sought clarification.

"Mr Chairman, just one question I want to ask. In rejecting section two of the report regarding the correctness of the identified anomalies, did we send (it) out (to) the appropriate authorities to correct those or to report back? Or is it just a final thing of rejecting? Is that ipso facto, is that it?"

Warmington, the member of parliament for South West St Catherine, then interjected, citing Section 67 of the Constitution in order to clarify the matter at hand. Immediately afterwards, chairman Charles, in bringing one of the latecomers up to speed, erred when he spoke to the need to sign a resolution on the matter, prompting another clarification from Warmington.

"It has nothing to do with resolution. The committee meets to review the draft report that is to go to Parliament, that's all. So the issue of resolution doesn't come into the mix. Basically, the report was decided on September 26, so it only required the signature of members. The decision was unanimous, so it just required the signature for the Parliament to do what is necessary before it can be laid. So we need to sign, then the Parliament will deal with it after that," he explained.

Finally, at 2:02 p.m. the meeting was adjourned.