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Jamaica not ready to throw out Throne Speech - Opposition

Published:Friday | May 11, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen delivers the Throne Speech during yesterday's ceremonial opening of the 2012-2013 session of Parliament at Gordon House in Kingston. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

DESPITE a declaration from Phillip Paulwell, the leader of government business in the House of Representatives, that yesterday was the last time the Throne Speech would bear that name, several of the island's legislators are cautious about such a move.

Andrew Holness, the leader of the opposition told The Gleaner that "changing the name is not anything substantial".

North East St Elizabeth MP Raymond Pryce has urged the Parliament to change the name of the Throne Speech to the People's Speech. He said the move would represent further movement away from the Queen as the nation's head of State.

Yesterday, Holness said Jamaica was not yet at the point where it should consider renaming the speech.

"At this point, we are looking to change the structure of our government. You don't go and change the Throne Speech, you await the entire picture as to what your new government structure will be," Holness added.

Change to republic first

Similarly, Delroy Chuck, the leader of opposition business in the House, said he believed renaming the Throne Speech would be putting the cart before the horse.

"It is inappropriate while we are a monarchical democracy," Chuck said. "Change to the republic and then you name it anything."

In January, during her inauguration ceremony, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said Jamaica would be moving to break ties with the Queen and to make Jamaica a republic.

When asked yesterday if this was the last opening of Parliament with the Queen as head of State, the prime minister replied: "I can't say yet."

When Governor General Sir Patrick Allen delivered the Throne Speech in Gordon House yesterday, he said the Government would be seeking to pass 32 pieces of legislation this year. Among the bills to be brought to Parliament is an Act to Establish the Caribbean Court of Justice as Jamaica's Final Court of Appeal.

There was, however, no mention of any act to amend the Constitution and make Jamaica a Republic.

Lambert Brown, a government senator, said he can't wait for Jamaica to make the move to republic and to make history all aspects of the country's colonial relations.

"It is not the name that is important to me, although the institution of Her Majesty the Queen comes with the baggage of having the status we have," Brown said.

He added: "If we move to a republic, it's fine with me, otherwise we are just playing semantics over the name."

But that is not the feeling of Everald Warmington and Arnaldo Brown. Warmington, the MP for South West St Catherine, said he wants the speech to be renamed the State of the Nation address.

"I don't think we need to wait for anything," he said.

Similarly, Brown, MP for South Central St Catherine, said the symbolism of the name change would indicate a further commitment to having full political independence.

"In that sense, symbolism can be useful. I see no difficulty with it as it is a low-hanging fruit that can be done without cost and it will indicate our commitment to be called a republic," Brown told The Gleaner.

The Government says it will pass 32 pieces of legislation this parliamentary year.

The key pieces of legislation to be taken to Parliament include:

An Act to Establish the Caribbean Court of Justice as Jamaica's Final Court of Appeal.

A Secured Transactions Act to overhaul Jamaica's antiquated system for taking security over collateral other than real estate.

A new Patents and Design Act to provide a modern framework for investment.

Amendment of the Evidence Act

Anti-gang Legislation to more effectively target criminal gangs

To facilitate the use of DNA evidence in the criminal justice system.

Legislation to establish a single corruption agency

An Act to Establish Jamaica as a Republic, within the Commonwealth of Nations.