THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Gleaner's parliamentary column, The Gavel, considers ridiculous the suggestion from Opposition Leader Andrew Holness that a code of conduct be developed for parliamentarians.
The British Parliament, which has its fair share of behavioural problems, but which, no doubt, The Gavel would say is better in terms of the conduct of its members than the Jamaican legislature, did not consider it ridiculous to develop a code of conduct to guide its parliamentarians.
Britain's House of Commons approved a code of conduct on July 13, 2005, to guide the conduct of its parliamentarians. Notwithstanding that, they, too, are guided by Standing Orders and Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice. The British code of conduct says, "The obligations set out in this code are complementary to those which apply to all members by virtue of the procedural and other rules of the House and the rulings of the chair."
The leader of the Opposition is, after all, seriously concerned about the breakdown of order in the Lower House and has sought to contribute to workable solutions to the problem. One possible solution is the adoption of a code of conduct.
Perhaps, on reflection, The Gavel might not be so unrepentant in its view that the creation of a code of conduct would be of no greater benefit to the Parliament than the Standing Orders. Can we be open-minded in seeking to raise the levels of conduct in the House and in our society as a whole?
ARTHUR WILLIAMS (Sen)