Both House Speaker and Deputy are all equally undemocratic and repugnant


The Editor
Bahamas Press 10 th May 2021.

Dear BP,

Frequent watchers of the proceedings in the Parliament know that certain things follow just as night follows day. The government tables a bill, its seconded and later it is debated; so far so good then, the insanity begins. The government does not want the opposition to have a say in any legislation.

They regularly ignore good advice and are dismissive of their views no matter how well founded. At every sitting FNM members become disruptive, shout across the aisles and in many cases the MP seated directly behind the Leader of the Opposition engages in a running, disruptive commentary designed to obscure anything that the Leader has to say.

Sometimes the interruptions are so persistent, puerile and asinine that one must wonder how that person got elected to the house in the first place. No matter how outrageous the behavior of FNM parliamentarians the Speaker and his Deputy do nothing about it and thus emboldened, FNM, MP, s engage in boorish, obnoxious behaviors at every sitting of the house.

In contrast, no matter how provocative the actions of the FNMs, PLP MPs
preserves the sanctity and decorum of the house and interrupt only on relevant applicable points of order. And even when they display their parliamentary acumen, the Speaker, and his Deputy do all in their powers to show their bias and rank partisanship when discharging their duties.

In trying to stifle the voices of the opposition, the Speaker and his Deputy have resorted to the odious practice of removing PLP members from the house much to the delight of their FNM confederates but, to the detriment of our democracy. They have taken these actions no less than five times over the past four years. However, the last removal of PLP members from the house on a shallow pretext was so odious that many political observers have commented negatively on the Deputy Speakers’ irrational actions.

Did the Deputy Speaker exceed his parliamentary remit? The majority opinion seems to think so.

Was it all a part of his auditioning for the Speakers job? only time will tell. But more to the point when and under what circumstances can the Speaker remove members from the precincts of the house? Here the Rules of the House are helpful, and Rule 37 reads as follows:

“That the Speaker or the Chairman shall order Members whose conduct is grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the House during the remainder of the day’s sitting; and should such Member fail or refuse to withdraw when so ordered the Speaker or Chairman may name such Member or Members in which event the procedure prescribed in Rule 38 shall be followed”.

It is my opinion having watched the entire proceedings that the Deputy Speaker ran recklessly and with malevolent intent to Rule 38 without making a case against the members for engaging in “Grossly disorderly” conduct. Indeed, if anyone’s behaviour was gross and disorderly it was the Deputy Speakers who rose and shouted and ranted like a person possessed.

But again, that was always the plan. The plan was to save the Minister of Aviation and Tourism the embarrassment of having to answer the member of Englerston’s probing questions on the government’s agreement with the FAA especially the removal of the exemption from overflight fees on Bahamian aircraft flying in our airspace.

But not to worry; there will be other debates before we see this FNM administration no more. Who will be in the Speakers seat is of little import because both Speakers are all equally undemocratic and repugnant.

Michael J. Brown