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Speaker chides MPs after quorum quandary

Published:Thursday | October 13, 2022 | 12:09 AM

Wednesday's sitting of the House of Representatives got under way without a quorum, in breach of the Standing Orders, which are the rules of Parliament.

When Leader of Opposition Business Phillip Paulwell pointed out the blunder and noted that the Standing Orders provide for a five-minute window to reach a quorum, failing which an adjournment would follow, a peeved House Speaker Marisa Dalrymple Philibert warned members that she would comply with the rules.

The Standing Orders state that the quorum of the House and of a committee of the whole House shall consist of 16 members besides the person presiding.

At 2:20 p.m., the Kingston Central Member of Parliament entered the chamber and became the 16th legislator in attendance, which satisfied the requirement mere seconds shy of an adjournment.

The Speaker chastised tardy members for creating an “embarrassing” situation.

“I am very disheartened by this type of behaviour,” Dalrymple Philibert said. “It is a sad day and poor reflection on all of us.”

She continued: “They say sometimes when the press write some things, we get offended, but let me tell you, there is no need for us to get offended on this one because we have said it, time and time again, that this is the highest court of the land and we are elected to represent the people and this is our working time,” the Speaker said.

“When The Gleaner and the press write about us, we must swallow it because there is no excuse for it. That is what we are elected and paid to do,” she insisted.

“I hate to say it, but the Government has the majority of people in here, and we have a member who speaks this afternoon,” Dalrymple Philibert added.

Her stinging criticism of the tardiness of some members prompted St Catherine South West Member of Parliament (MP) Everald Warmington to rise.

Warmington, who is one of the most punctual lawmakers, arrived a little late on Wednesday because he reportedly attended a government function.

“Everyone that is here now is always here on time, so I am always here by 1 p.m. each day,” said Warmington.

However, St Andrew Western MP Anthony Hylton made a comment that infuriated Warmington.

Pointing across the aisle with an increased decibel level, Warmington said: “Don't you ever dare do that again!”

The Speaker tried to restrain Warmington, but he continued: “Anybody can say that except a 'quashie' lawyer, so don't you do that again!”

The Patois dictionary defines quashie as a person who is of low breeding and class.

With a frown on his face, Hylton waved his hand to dismiss Warmington's remarks, but he was not done: “The only place you fit for is Riverton City, the dump, so don't you ever do that ... . Disrespectful and rude!”