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Senate becomes PNP headquarters

Published:Friday | July 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Brown Burke

ANGELA BROWN Burke stunned members of the Senate with a Freudian slip on Friday when she referred to Lambert Brown as "Comrade Brown", a departure from parliamentary rules.

Brown, like Brown Burke, is a government senator and member of the left-wing People's National Party (PNP), in which members are styled as Comrades.

However, with parliamentary rules dictating that members of the Upper House be referred to as senator, Brown Burke, while presiding, made the slip as she gave instructions to Brown to ignore comments being made by Leader of Opposition Business Senator Tom Tavares-Finson.


Political speech


Tavares-Finson, in a sotto voce remark, told Brown that he was displeased that the debate on an act to amend the Income Tax Act, to make provision for an increase in the threshold, was descending into a political speech. The bill gives effect to the decision to increase the income tax threshold to $557,232 per annum, up from $507,312 per annum as of January 1, 2015. It will also allow for a further increase to $592,800 on January 1, 2016.

"Every debate, yuh spoil it with politics," Tavares-Finson said.

But Brown, who was trumpeting the record of the Portia Simpson Miller-led Government, was unrepentant.

"My friend, Senator Tavares-Finson, I have no problem in speaking the truth. If, for you, the truth is spoiling, so let it be," Brown said.

It was at that point that the deputy president intervened.

"Comrade Brown, you are on the floor," she said, before hastily amending her speech to say, "Senator Brown, you are on the floor."

Brown would continue in the vein of blowing the Government's trumpet saying, among other things, that the administration, despite the difficult economic circumstances, had been able to move the income tax threshold from $441,168 to $592,800.

"Despite not laying off thousands of public-sector workers, we are able to give a relief of the magnitude given this year, and we are doing all of this while staying within the fiscal rules while passing the multiple IMF tests," Brown said.

At one point, Tavares-Finson rose on a point of order saying that Brown was not debating the bill. He took the opportunity to refer to the speaker as Comrade Brown, an intervention that did not escape senators who giggled at the tongue-in-cheek remark.

Acting leader of Government Business Mark Golding was not to be left out as, in closing the debate, he, too, made a Freudian slip when he referred to Senator Dr Christoper Tufton as minister.