Parliament needs more than a new home

Thursday, May 17, 2018

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Dear Editor,

The prime minister will be launching the competition to design the new home of the nation's Parliament today.

This is a historic occasion as Gordon House has outlived its functions as a suitable venue to host the countries lawmakers.

I visited Parliament recently to hear Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett make his presentation in the sectoral debate and was appalled at the disgraceful level of behaviour exhibited by the Members of Parliament.

We have copied the British parliamentary system of designing the chamber so that the Government members sit across from the Opposition This may work in England, where the people are much calmer in temperament, but here we act as two hostile tribes fighting for the spoils, so the seating arrangement encourages conflicts.

When a Member of Parliament is sworn in that person swears allegiance to the people of Jamaica, not the party which they campaigned with to win that seat. The members of both parties form the Government, who together should act in the best interest of the country.

I therefore would like to see all parliamentarians seated in a semi-circle with an aisle dividing the ruling members from the Opposition.

The prime minister and the leader of the Opposition should be seated across the aisle from each other and all should face the Speaker of the House.

The configuration could well resemble the United States of America's senate layout.

The design should incorporate a seating arrangement so that all the parliamentarians would sit together with the common objective of running the government so as to be most effective in addressing the concerns of the country.

We must insist that our leaders behave in such a responsible way that the concept of the Jamaican political landscape that is divided into two hostile tribes fighting for the spoils becomes a thing of the past. This process must start with the behaviour of Members of Parliament when the House is in session.

Winston Dear

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