THE PARLIAMENTARY opposition seems desperate to paint Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller as being incapable of answering impromptu questions.
For the second week in a row, it has put the issue of prime minister's question time in the spotlight.
Last week, Delroy Chuck, leader of opposition business in the House, fought hard to have Speaker Michael Peart agree to his proposal for oral questions to be posed to Simpson Miller.
Rightfully, based on the current rules, Peart rejected the advance.
Chuck, backed by Opposition Leader Andrew Holness, tried to breach the rules to have Simpson Miller follow in former Prime Minister Bruce Golding's footsteps by answering oral questions in the House.
Simpson Miller has been clear that she is willing to take questions, but only as the Standing Orders dictate.
The Standing Orders of the House prescribe that there shall be a period known as Prime Minister's Question Time on the second Tuesday of each month.
It is also documented that notice of the questions being asked must be given at least seven days in advance.
In the last Parliament, Golding decided he would take oral questions without notice.
The Gavel considered that a positive step for democracy, even though it was not required based on the Parliamentary rules.
It is such a pity that the House, following on the recommendations from the Standing Order Committee failed to make this practice part of the rules.
Holness - who was the Leader of Government business when the report came from the committee - has to answer questions about his stewardship in that regard.
Had he led in such a way that the recommendations of the Committee were placed before the House for them to be accepted, Simpson Miller would have no choice in the matter.
But since the rules have not been changed, the Prime Minister has somewhere to hide.
A sour episode
Be that as it may, we found last week's episode during the sitting of the House particular sour, especially when one considers that the Opposition had no intention of asking any question of the Prime Minister.
Despite Chuck and Holness' political gymnastics in the House, they did not seek leave of the speaker to ask any question.
The Standing Orders dictate that leave of the speaker must be granted before any question is asked of the Prime Minister.
Secondly, if the Opposition had questions for Simpson Miller, the notice could have been given two weeks ago when Chuck first enquired whether the Prime Minister would walk in Golding's footsteps.
The Gavel is clear in its mind that Simpson Miller should not be allowed to hide behind the Standing Orders in not providing answers to questions on national importance.
It is for this reason we urge Peart, the chairman of the Standing Orders Committee, to put his team to work.
Similarly, Phillip Paulwell, leader of government business, must ensure that the House prioritise the consideration of the report which the Peart's committee sends to it.
The Gavel also has another piece of unsolicited advice for Peart. For heaven's sake, don't give so much latitude to members when they speak.
While it is good to allow people to speak freely, you could also be breeding disrespect in the House.
We draw your attention to North West St Elizabeth MP, J.C. Hutchinson's, nasty utterance on Tuesday.
Robert Pickersgill, the member from North West St Catherine, had called Hutchinson a chipmunk, in reference to the opposition MPs suggestion during the last Parliament that microchips be placed in animals as a mean of fighting praedial larceny.
Peart, after been urged by South West St Catherine MP Everald Warmington to do something about the comment, said he did not hear it.
Hutchinson, apparently viewing that as a license to disrespect, then proceeded to behave like viragos at the community standpipe.
"There is a member inside here who continues to be disruptive to many persons and he is one that has a chip in his nose, and I am not sure that every time he opens his mouth he thinks it is that time of the month," Hutchinson said.
In fairness to Peart, he cautioned Hutchinson, saying, "No, Mr Hutchinson!" But that was after Hutchinson said, "If he wants to go certain places, then I certainly will."
Peart should have sent Hutchinson out of the House for the day, for certainly, that is neither the behaviour nor imagery that should be condoned in the nation's Parliament.
Parliamentary schedule this week
Tuesday, 10 A.M.
Constituency Development Fund
Tuesday 10 a.m.
Special Select Committee on Tax Reform
Tuesday 1:30 P.M.
Public Administration & AppropriationsCommittee
Tuesday 2 P.M.
Sitting of the House of Representatives