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After Speaker denies Shyne’s no confidence motion, House smacks down privilege motion alleging bias and unfairness

Posted: Friday, August 11, 2023. 1:47 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: It was a double defeat for the Opposition to start the House of Representatives meeting this morning.

House Speaker Valerie Woods reiterated to Opposition Leader Moses “Shyne” Barrow in her announcements at the start of the meeting what she wrote to him beforehand, telling him that his No Confidence Motion will not be placed on the Order Paper for today’s Sitting.

Woods wrote, “Kindly be informed that the Speaker of the House of Representatives has directed that the Private Member’s Motion infringes Standing Order 38(5), in relation to the 5th recital of the Motion, by imputing improper motives in respect of a Minister and a Minister of State and by making assertions of malfeasance against the Prime Minister, a civil wrong for which no court of law has made any such pronouncement.”

Barrow was also told that “As you may be aware, on July 11, 2023, three companies filed a claim in which the claimants are asking the Court to pronounce the lawfulness of the Portico Agreement. It is a cardinal principle of our constitutional democracy that Parliament will not engage in a debate on a subject matter which is before the Courts for determination.”

In response, Barrow emailed the National Assembly Thursday evening stating in part, “You, Madam Speaker, have exposed yourself to be a complete waste of time as Speaker of the House… I was foolish to believe that a former PUP Senator and candidate would be anything other than a partisan hack.” He also accused her of seeking to shield and defend the Government from public scrutiny and accountability.

The Speaker today called the response “false,” a grave offense against the Standing Orders with regard to imputing improper motives to the Chair and questioning the conduct of the Chair, and what amounts to libel and breach of Parliamentary privilege: “a flagrant display of disrespect to the House in particular and to the Chair…”

Ordinarily, Speaker Woods said, the matter would be by tradition be one for the House’s Privileges Committee.

The Speaker then vacated her seat after the Leader of the Opposition presented notice of a privilege motion against her, which overtakes all other business. Barrow said he was not directly called to discuss the motion before it was denied, and the denial’s effect is “silencing the Opposition – this is what happens in banana republics, this is what happens in fascist states.” The Standing Order cited, he said, concerns ensuring that the debate does not impugn the judicial proceedings.

Presiding Deputy House Speaker, Marconi Leal Sr., ultimately rejected the motion. “Your motion is inconsistent with the Standing Orders; you can bring a motion to thos House at any time, provided that it does not contravene the Standing Orders.”


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