MPs want more time in Parliament

Monday, November 18, 2019

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Leader of the House of Representatives Karl Samuda says that the House will have to find ways to sit for more hours weekly if it is to meet its deadline to break on December 10 for calendar year 2019.

Samuda made the observation after Opposition MPs rejected his proposal that the House starts its meeting tomorrow at 10:00 am. The House of Representatives normally meets at 2:00 pm on Tuesdays, and sometimes on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

“It is not the intention to continue this Parliament beyond December 10, because we have work to do, and the legislative programme of the Government must go on, and we have to make the time available to enable us to do it,” an angry Samuda told the House.

He said that the amount of work to be done could not be done effectively if the House sticks with the 2:00 pm start time.

He stated that notwithstanding Standing Orders 1(a) allowing for the House to meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, starting at 2:00 pm, in accordance with Standing Order 1(b) he was seeking that it resumes at 10:00 am on Tuesday.

However, Leader of Opposition Business Dr Morais Guy said that while he understood the need to have more time devoted to the business of the House, “to say this week that we go for it next week will put a lot of members out, in terms of previous commitments”.

“I would think that the appropriate way to go about it is to have a discussion and, possibly, refer it to the Standing Order Committee for deliberation. It cannot be so precipitous,” he insisted.

Dr Guy was supported by the Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips, who said that he had heard a sotto voce remark from Prime Minister Andrew Holness across the floor for the House sitting to begin at 1:00 pm tomorrow.

He said that he would have no objection to that, but he believed that there was need for a discussion on the matter, between the house leader and the leader of opposition business, which would also include other issues such as meetings of the various House committees.

“It is an important consideration, but we can do it with some order, and whatever time we set we meet on time,” Phillips argued.

Prime Minister Holness welcomed the opposition leader's input, and added there must be some discussion with the Standing Orders Committee, “to take a serious look at the conduct of our business, and the time available for legislative work”.

But, in the end, the idea for a 1:00 pm start tomorrow was dismissed, after the House leader explained that a special session organised by United Nations Children's Fund and the Office of the Children's Advocate is already planned for Gordon House at 1:00 pm on the topic of Ending Violence Against Children.


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