Committee dismisses Parliament dress proposal
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
THE STANDING Orders committee of Parliament on Tuesday flatly turned down a suggestion by member Everald Warmington that visitors to Gordon House dress in like manner as members of parliament.
Warmington had proposed that males visitors as well as members of the press corps wear jacket and tie to the House.
But the committee rejected the suggestion, saying it would be a barrier to people seeing their Parliament at work.
"What is most critical of it all is that the attire is sober and that it reflects a certain level of respect towards the House that we are all member of," Gregory Mair commented.
In parting company with Warmington, Mair said he recalled that during the times he visited the House before he became a member, he got the feeling that the Parliament "was not the Parliament of the people, but referred to much like a private club".
"It is the House of the people. One thing's for sure is that the people should always have access and observe whatever meeting they so desire," Mair said.
He noted that people should not be allowed to walk into the Parliament in the way they are dressed, arguing there should be minimum standards.
"I would like to ensure that we do not create a barrier for the people we represent to come to the visitors' gallery to watch the deliberations," Mair said.
"Not everybody can afford to have a jacket," he added.
But Warmington was not amused. "I don't think you can find a single man in Jamaica who can't find a jacket and a tie to come here," he said.
After failing to receive the support from his colleague Warming-ton dispensed with the idea of the jacket, but argued strongly for male visitors to wear tie.
"If we are saying that they have jacket, everybody in Jamaica can find a tie ... I would suggest that Mrs (Heather) Cooke ask for some amount of financing to buy ties put down downstairs and lend them a tie to come up here."
Much a do about nothing
Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, who stressed the need for Parliament to be inclusive, said she had not seen anyone who had flaunted the dress code since her election to the House in December.
"I do think that this is much ado about nothing," she said.
In the meantime, Warmington took great offence to an interjection from the Clerk to the House of Parliament, Heather Cooke, who, with the permission of chairman Michael Peart, advised the committee of existing rules governing dress to the Parliament.
Warmington claimed that the clerk had no business participating in the discussions as she is not a member of parliament.
The members of the committee disagreed that the clerk's intervention amounted to participation in the debate.
Following Tuesday's sitting, a draft report is to be prepared by the committee for consultation, and thereafter a final report sent to the House for consideration.
Proposed dress code
Persons appearing before Parliament must abide by the same dress code as MPs.
Students must wear uniform.
Members of the press corps must wear sober attire. Males must wear long sleeve shirts and tie.
Members of the general public must be appropriately dressed. No slippers, shorts, sleeveless, tube tops, T-shirts.