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by Emmanuel Joseph

parliament2013sirroyThe new sitting of the House of Assembly this evening started in controversy before an unusually packed public gallery.

While senators, dignataries and guests were being entertained at a reception in Parliament yard at the end of the ceremonial State opening, MPs were in the Lower Chamber dealing with a contentious matter surrounding the appointment of the Management Commission of Parliament.

After Leader of Government Business, John Boyce, had announced his side’s nominees, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley rose and objected to the appointment of the commission and the Public Accounts Committee during the sitting.

Mottley complained that the composition of the commission was disproportionate in favour of the Government and blamed this on a lack of consultation with the Opposition.

She suggested that at best, the number of members would be 10 for the government, three for the Opposition and one independent Senator, and at worse, 12 for the Government, three for the Opposition and one independent Senator.

The Barbados Labour Party political leader then moved a motion that the appointment of the commission be deferred to Tuesday’s sitting of the House, but the Chamber became divided on the matter and re-elected Speaker, Michael Carrington, was forced to call a division, resulting in the matter going to a vote.

The outcome of that vote was 15 Government MPs saying “no” to deferring the appointment and 14 Opposition members, declaring “yes”.

This meant that the Opposition had now “tasted” its first defeat in Parliament during its inaugural session.

To add insult to injury, Mottley had to support the Government decision to appoint the commission this evening and therefore nominated the Opposition’s members. She also nominated members, as did the Government, to sit on the other committees of Parliament such as the Committee of Privileges, the Public Accounts Committee, the Standing Orders Committee and the Library Joint Committee.

During the sitting, the House also selected Mara Thompson to be Deputy Speaker and James Paul as Chairman of Committees.

Just before the Chamber was adjourned until Tuesday, Mottley moved a motion for the members to observe a minute silence to show respect for the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, who died yesterday. The House agreed.†††††

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