Firm, but fair
The re-elected Speaker of the House of Assembly, Michael Carrington, said tonight, he will not hesitate to suspend members who engage in unacceptable behaviour in the Lower Chamber during the current session.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY after the official opening of Parliament, Carrington warned MPs he would continue to enforce the rules of the House in the strictest manner, but with fairness.
“It is not where I draw the line, it is where the members draw the line. I am not the keeper of anybody’s morals. I am here to administer the rules and to ensure that the standard of behaviour is such as the members want,” the presiding officer cautioned.
He recalled an incident in the former session of Parliament involving the representative for Christ Church West, where certain unparliamentary language was used that caused wide public debate.
“The members had it in their power, if they wanted to, to move such motions of sensorship that they felt available; and there is provision for that under the rules,” added Carrington.
“The other interesting thing about that is, it wasn’t clear to the presiding officer at the point in time, what had transpired, so he couldn’t deal with that. It was only after he listened to the tape, he recognised what was said. So it was basically out of his hands.†I would like to think, though, if something like that had happened on my watch and I was aware of it, I would take firm action,” he suggested.
He said he was certain any presiding officer would do the same.
“The powers of the presiding officer are clear. You can put out the member forthwith at the time, or you can move a substantive motion… You can ask for a substantive motion under the appropriate order, that the member be suspended from the service of the House. That is an option,” Carrington noted.
He told Barbados today he would be willing to suspended any MP, pointing out that his actions would be done evenly and fairly, “and I would be willing to let the chips fall where there may”.
“I don’t think there could be any question about that. I put out the Leader of the Opposition and a senior member in one fell swoop, so that says where I stand on certain things,” the St. Michael West Representative argued.
He said, too, while the issue of members bringing firearms into the House was not a priority, it’s a matter which must be examined. The Speaker also responded to concerns expressed in some quarters, suggesting that St. Philip West MP, Dr. David Estwick was this evening appointed to the Committee of Privileges, even though he had a matter before it, related to an alleged gun incident in the last session.
“My understanding is that that matter would have died with the last Parliament, so basically that has never been an issue and that is what it is. He said though that the matter of having guns in Parliament was still alive and the current Parliament would have to deal with it. (EJ)