Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
Yesterday's Withdrawal of the controversial censure motion against East Central St Andrew Member of Parliament, Dr Peter Phillips, by government backbencher Gregory Mair, fuelled a firestorm in Gordon House that was threatening since the measure was first introduced last February.
Mair, the MP for North East St Catherine, had introduced the motion to chastise Phillips for signing two secret memoranda of understanding with the United States government without the knowledge of his then Cabinet colleagues.
However, the basic parliamentary procedure of withdrawing the motion, which was expected to take a few minutes, detained the House for an extended period as government and opposition MPs engaged in a shouting match.
In signalling that he no longer had an interest in debating the censure motion, Mair claimed that Phillips had breached the 'fundamental rights and freedoms of the people of Jamaica by signing two MOUs'.
Mair told members of the House that the findings contained in the report submitted by the three commissioners who presided over the Manatt-Dudus commission of enquiry indicated that Phillips had breached the constitutional rights of Jamaicans when he signed secret MOUs with the US government.
"I therefore find at this time no reason to pursue this matter," he concluded.
However, opposition MP Bobby Pickersgill raised objection to the manner in which the motion was being withdrawn.
Declaring that he was ready to debate the motion, Pickersgill charged: "You see what is in this motion; come here with this reckless, careless allegation and just want to willy-nilly withdraw."
Central Manchester MP Peter Bunting chided Mair for not tendering an apology to Phillips, describing the motion as "out of order".
"In withdrawing the motion, the member repeated the falsehood that is alleged in this motion. He spoke to an unconstitutionality of something in which he has no competence to make a judgment," Bunting complained.
House Speaker Delroy Chuck subsequently intervened, informing parliamentarians that a request by the Government side to postpone the debate was rejected by him. The Speaker said he insisted that if the motion could not be debated on Tuesday, the measure had to be withdrawn.
"What has been intimated to me by the Government side is that they are not proceeding, and I said, withdraw it. So if you want it to be debated at another time, it can be done."
Chuck asked whether there was any objection to the withdrawal of the motion, then immediately moved to the next order of business.