Wed | Feb 19, 2020

House tumbles into chaos as Speaker seeks to block censure motion against him

Published:Tuesday | January 21, 2020 | 6:02 PM
House Speaker Pearnel Charles

The House of Representatives tumbled into chaos for a second sustained period Tuesday afternoon, as House Speaker Pearnel Charles sought to block the tabling of a censure motion against him.

The motion, proposed by St Andrew South Eastern MP Julian Robinson demands the censuring of Charles over his decision to delay the tabling of the Auditor General's special audit report into the scandal-hit Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).

The document was delivered to the House in December last year and should have been tabled last Tuesday, but it was not done.

At the time, Charles said he would table the report when he received it.

Today, Robinson insisted that Charles should be censured and maintained that the Standing Order allowed for the motion to be brought without notice.

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Opposition members stood in solidarity with Robinson after the Speaker accused him of lying about a discussion they had today.

According to Charles, Robinson agreed that the motion should have been sent to deputy speaker Franklin Witter.

But Robinson said there had been no such agreement.

Charles, after huddling with the Leader of Government Business in the House Karl Samuda and the Clerk to the Houses of Parliament Heather Cooke relented and allowed Robinson to move the motion.

Earlier, there was chaos in the Parliament as Charles said, while he would table the CMU report, he would not allow any discussion on it.

See motion below:

WHEREAS the Auditor General’s Report on the state of affairs at the Caribbean Maritime University (“the Report”) was delivered to the House of Representatives prior to Tuesday 14th January, 2019;

AND WHEREAS on receiving the Report the Speaker had an unconditional duty under section 122(2) of the Constitution and under section 29(2) of the Financial Administration and Audit Act (“the Act”) to cause the Report to be laid before the House;

AND WHEREAS the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Member for North Central Clarendon, during the sitting of the House on Tuesday 14th January, 2020 and in response to a query from the Leader of Opposition Business in the House as to whether the Report would be tabled in the House in that sitting, stated that he would table the Report once he received it, thereby misleading the House by erroneously and unequivocally suggesting that he had not received the Report;

AND WHEREAS the Speaker, during the said sitting of the House, thereafter told the Leader of Government Business in the House that “Mi nah lay it tiday. Mi not laying it tiday”, which remarks were picked up by an open microphone and reported on in the media;

AND WHEREAS the Speaker thereby committed an egregious breach of the established rules of conduct and conventions of the House by misleading the House on a matter of great national importance, namely whether the Report has been received by the House, as well as failing to comply with the aforementioned provisions of the Constitution and the Act;

AND WHEREAS the Speaker thereby brought the high and noble office of Speaker into disrepute;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Member for North Central Clarendon be censured for his aforementioned conduct;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this matter be and is hereby referred to the House’s Committee of Privileges for its immediate determination, prior to the next sitting of the House, of the appropriate sanction against the Member for North Central Clarendon by way of censure for his aforementioned conduct; and

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Speaker shall recuse himself from the hearing of this matter by the House’s Committee of Privileges, given the clear conflict of interest that his presence would involve.”

 
________
Member for South East St. Andrew
January 21, 2020

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