Parliamentarians under the whip - House speaker raps members
Speaker of the House Delroy Chuck signalled yesterday that he is fed up with the misconduct of some members on both sides of the parliamentary chamber.
Chuck dispatched copies of a memorandum to all 60 members of the House of Representatives and later told them that the correspondence served as a final warning to errant parliamentarians.
The speaker followed up the memo with strong words when the matter was raised by Leader of Government Business in the House Andrew Holness.
Chuck was uncharacteristically blunt as he raised the matter at the start of yesterday's sitting of the House.
The speaker said he had been quite tolerant in the past, due in part to his days as a mischievous member on the Opposition benches.
However, he complained that his patience with wayward members appeared to have given some of them carte blanche to misbehave.
"The speaker does not want to impose a penalty but the conduct and comments of some members are not only insensitive but outright rude," Chuck declared.
He added: "If this behaviour continues, I shall have no alternative but to take strong action and ask members to leave the chamber."
As he addressed the House, Chuck referred to a member on the Government bench whom he accused of rudely speaking at the same time.
"He is one of those who constantly breach the Standing Orders," the speaker said.
Chuck said all the members on the Government side who habitually flout the rules of Parliament were present, while some of the errant members on the Opposition side were absent.
The speaker's chastisement appeared to find favour with the Opposition side, signalled its approval by applauding, while Government members were noticeably quiet.
Leader of Government Business Andrew Holness sought to assure the speaker that members had taken his warning seriously.
Holness served notice that he would invite the Standing Orders Committee to revisit Section 32 of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives, which stipulates that members should not read presentations from prepared texts.
The media did not escape the displeasure of Government member Everald Warmington, who complained about a journalist reading a copy of a newspaper in the press area during yesterday's sitting of the House.
This precipitated another word of caution to parliamentary reporters from Chuck.
The speaker emphasised that all persons seated in the gallery of Parliament were required to show decorum.