Tue | Dec 12, 2017

House out, no quorum

Published:Monday | December 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Gordon House, seat of the Houses of Parliament

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Franklyn Witter last week Tuesday had the unenviable job of pronouncing in Gordon House to empty benches that the Lower House could not sit owing to the lack of a quorum. Clerk to the Houses of Parliament Heather Cooke and her staff looked on as Witter carried out his task.

Witter, who was the only lawmaker in attendance, was guided by the clerk.

At about 2:14 p.m., the clerk noted that the deputy speaker was the only member in the chamber. "It's now 2:15 p.m., The House was scheduled to start at 2 o'clock, and it appears unlikely that members will be showing up for the meeting, so, Mr Deputy Speaker, over to you. I think what we really need to do is to say that we are unable to meet for lack of a quorum."

Witter declared: "For today's sitting of the House, the 28th of November, 2017, we are unable to meet today as a result of a lack of quorum and, therefore, a new date will be set for the next meeting of the House."

 

HOUSE SUSPENDED

 

When the House of Representatives adjourned its sitting the week before, Leader of Government Business Everald Warmington declared: "It's not intended to do any further business for today (November 21), so I ask for the suspension of the House until next week Tuesday, November 28, at 2:00 p.m."

Speaker of the House Pearnel Charles put the motion of adjournment until November 28, to which the members agreed.

However, when The Gleaner asked Warmington, the acting leader of government business in the House, why the sitting did not take place on Tuesday last, he directed the newspaper to the clerk, noting that she had sent out a notice advising members that the House would sit on Wednesday.

When The Gleaner pressed for clarity on the issue, Warmington went on the offensive.

"The clerk to the Houses sent out notification to all members that the House does not adjourn until tomorrow (Wednesday). Every member got that, ok."

However, when this reporter sought to explain to Warmington that he had moved a motion for adjournment on November 21 for the House to meet on November 28, the controversial MP spewed invectives.

"Don't tell me nonsense! That is not so. ... Don't tell me ... nonsense!"

Warmington, who is also state minister with responsibility for the National Works Agency in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, ended the call abruptly.