House members scoff at Charles' claims of losing metal to vandals
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
"I want to cross-examine him," North Trelawny Member of Parliament (MP) Patrick Atkinson said from his seat in the House of Representatives yesterday.
Atkinson's declaration was directed at North Central Clarendon MP Pearnel Charles.
Charles has alleged that vandals struck at his Red Hills, St Andrew, home, removing several metal tables and chairs from a verandah.
The incident, Charles has claimed, took place on the eve of Monday's reopening of the scrap-metal trade.
Yesterday, some government MPs poked fun at Charles when Industry Minister Anthony Hylton delivered a statement to the House on the scrap-metal trade.
It was even suggested by North West St Catherine MP Robert Pickersgill that Charles was committing public mischief.
"I have heard your allegation. We have checked with the police and you have made no report to the police about stolen material from your home. I wonder why you haven't done so? Because the police are bound to do an investigation," Hylton said.
"You called the media, you didn't call the police station," Hylton said.
For his part, Charles said: "The police have had discussions with me. That discussion could only come out of the fact that I had reported it … ."
He added: "I might not find any sympathy inside this House (for) what has happened in my house."
In the meantime, Hylton said if the new scrap-metal regime was going to work, every Jamaican has a duty to report incidents of theft to the police.
NO NEED TO PANIC
Asked by Charles if he was prepared to shut down the trade again if it continues to fuel widescale theft, Hylton said the appropriate measures were in place and, if enforced, the scrap-metal trade could remain open.
"It should not be assumed that every theft is related to the trade. If there is evidence of the scale that is conjured up by the MP, then the Cabinet and the ministry would have to re-examine the issue," Hylton said.
The scrap-metal trade, which was closed in 2011, was reopened on Monday following the implementation of a raft of security measures.
Gregory Mair, the opposition spokesman on industry, questioned whether the trade was sustainable as he believed supplies would soon run dry.
He also questioned how the police would be able to identify stolen metal which has already been cut to pieces.
Hylton said no scrap can enter the sites other than in their natural form.