Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
SPEAKER OF the House of Representatives Michael Peart has admitted that his deputy breached parliamentary procedures yesterday when he gave instructions to the Marshal, Kevin Williams, to eject Opposition MP J.C. Hutchinson.
Deputy Speaker Lloyd B. Smith got himself into hot water when he instructed the Marshal to put out Hutchinson, triggering an ugly verbal altercation and a walkout by the Opposition.
In a Gleaner interview Peart said he met yesterday with his deputy, the Marshal, and the Clerk to the Houses of Parliament Heather Cooke.
"Basically, the error that was made was that the acting speaker did not name the member for the House Leader to put the motion for him to be suspended, so it was a breach of procedure," Peart said.
"He jumped the gun."
Added the Speaker: "It is being resolved. I met with the opposition members a short while ago (last evening), I explained to them that I understand the breach. It is a clear breach."
But senior Opposition MP Edmund Bartlett said the matter was far from being resolved.
Serious action required
Making it clear that the Opposition was upset, Bartlett said: "This is a breach that is going to require very serious action taken and I believe that the acting speaker has some answers to give to the House and the member (Hutchinson).
"This is unprecedented, never seen this happen in Westminster," he charged.
However, Leader of Government Business Philip Paulwell said he was bemused by the behaviour of the Opposition.
"There was an abuse of the Marshal of the House who acted on the instruction of the sitting Speaker," said Paulwell.
"The members of the Opposition abused him. This matter will have to be dealt with at Parliament next week because I don't think it can go without public notice of what took place, and an assurance that this will never happen again."
Hutchinson, the member from St Elizabeth North West, had disobeyed an instruction from the deputy speaker who sent the Marshal to take him out of the Chamber. The deputy speaker's instruction incurred the wrath of Opposition MPs who vigorously resisted the move.
"Move from behind him. You can't put him out. You can't do that, you crazy," shouted controversial South West St Catherine MP Everald Warmington to the speaker's 'strong-arm', in defence of Hutchinson.
Asked if a grudge would be held against the Marshal, Peart downplayed the issue saying: "If you make a mistake ... no man is perfect, the man made an error."
When The Gleaner sought a comment from the Marshal, he said he had to get permission to go on record from Cooke.
Asked to provide an explanation about what led to the Opposition walkout, Cooke said she would issue a statement on the matter today.
Smith erred when he refused to apply section 43 (4) of the Standing Orders - the rules of Parliament.
STANDING ORDER 43(4)
If a member shows disregard for the authority of the chair, or abuses the rules of the House by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business of the House or otherwise, the Speaker shall direct the attention of the House to the incident, mentioning the member concerned. The Speaker then shall call upon a minister to move "that the member for ... be suspended from the service of the House, " and the Speaker shall forthwith put the question, no seconder being required and no amendment, adjournment or debate being allowed.