‘I will not refuse’
Holness ready to serve if asked to be new House Speaker
If the gavel is passed to St Andrew East Rural Member of Parliament (MP) Juliet Holness on Tuesday, the legislator intends to have a firm grip on the reins of Parliament’s Lower House “in keeping with the Standing Orders”. Holness, the deputy...
If the gavel is passed to St Andrew East Rural Member of Parliament (MP) Juliet Holness on Tuesday, the legislator intends to have a firm grip on the reins of Parliament’s Lower House “in keeping with the Standing Orders”.
Holness, the deputy Speaker at Gordon House in Kingston, is widely expected to be elected presiding officer of the House of Representatives at its next sitting, following the departure of Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert from the post last week.
Section 2(1) of the Standing Orders of the Lower House stipulates that at the first meeting of the House immediately after a general election, or whenever it is necessary for the House to elect a Speaker by reason of a vacancy in the office occurring otherwise, “the clerk shall call upon the House to elect a Speaker”.
Speaking with The Gleaner on Sunday, Holness indicated that if colleague legislators propose that she step up to the plate, she will not refuse.
“I don’t believe I’m the only one who is sufficiently experienced and capable of handling the role of Speaker of the House, [but] if they are so convinced and confident that I will do a good job, I will not refuse,” said Holness when asked, following a town hall meeting with a joint select committee (JSC) of Parliament.
The JSC is considering job descriptions, codes of conduct, and performance standards for parliamentarians following a Green Paper tabled by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in Parliament in June.
Dalrymple-Philibert was the chair of that committee, a role in which Juliet Holness, wife of the prime minister, is now acting.
“I have spent my time getting more and more familiar with the Standing Orders. I do believe that it is important to continue a process of ensuring that Parliament’s operation and efficiency are held accountable in keeping with the Standing Orders.
“Some of the practices that we’ve had that have varied because of just relaxation, we must go back to what is the rule or change the rule if we do not believe that they meet the purpose of the Parliament,” Holness said.
Section 2(2) of the Standing Orders indicates that an MP, having first ascertained that the person they are proposing to be elected is to serve, may propose to the clerk that the person be elected.
The person proposed for the position cannot be a minister or parliamentary secretary.
If that proposition is seconded, the clerk, if no other member is suggested, must declare the member Speaker of the House.
Section 2(3) notes that if another member, willing to serve if elected, is proposed and seconded, the clerk must put forward the question that the member who was first proposed should be the Speaker.
If that proposal is agreed to, the Standing Orders state that the MP so chosen shall be Speaker, but if the proposal is rejected, the clerk must put forward a similar question in respect of any other member who has been nominated and seconded until the question is carried in favour of one of the members put forward.
It states that no debate must be allowed upon proposals for filling the office of Speaker.
The vacancy arose after Dalrymple-Philibert resigned, effective immediately, as Speaker and MP for Trelawny Southern on Thursday.
Dalrymple-Philibert is facing eight criminal charges for making a false statement in her statutory declarations. The charges concern a $6-million Mercedes-Benz motor vehicle that was omitted from her declarations from 2015 to 2021.
She has maintained that she has nothing to hide and that the omission was “a genuine oversight”.