Robinson files censure motion against House Speaker

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Robinson files censure motion against House Speaker

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

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Opposition legislator Julian Robinson yesterday filed a censure motion against House Speaker Pearnel Charles Snr during the sitting of the House in relation to the speaker's failure to table the auditor general's report on the scandal-tainted Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) last Tuesday.

Robinson, member of parliament for the St Andrew South Eastern constituency, said that under section 29(2) of the Financial Administration and Audit Act the Speaker has “an unconditional duty to cause the report to be laid before the House”, given that the report was delivered to the House of Representatives before last Tuesday.

Charles's failure to table the report, which contained details of poor management and other damaging information about the financial operations at CMU, angered the Opposition which last week criticised the decision and demanded that the report be tabled at the next sitting of the House.

Robinson's censure motion, filed in “pursuant to Standing Order No 24(15) of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives, stated:

“Whereas the Auditor General's Report on the state of affairs at the Caribbean Maritime University (“the report”) was delivered to the House of Representatives prior to Tuesday 14th January, 2019;

And whereas on receiving the report the Speaker had an unconditional duty under section 122(2) of the Constitution and under section 29(2) of the Financial Administration and Audit Act (“the Act”) to cause the report to be laid before the House;

And whereas the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Member for North Central Clarendon, during the sitting of the House on Tuesday, 14th January, 2020 and in response to a query from the Leader of Opposition Business in the House as to whether the report would be tabled in the House in that sitting, stated that he would table the report once he received it, thereby misleading the House by erroneously and unequivocally suggesting that he had not received the report;

And whereas the Speaker, during the said sitting of the House, thereafter told the Leader of Government Business in the House that “Mi nah lay it tiday. Mi not laying it tiday”, which remarks were picked up by an open microphone and reported on in the media;

And whereas the Speaker thereby committed an egregious breach of the established rules of conduct and conventions of the House by misleading the House on a matter of great national importance, namely whether the report has been received by the House, as well as failing to comply with the aforementioned provisions of the Constitution and the Act;

And whereas the Speaker thereby brought the high and noble office of Speaker into disrepute;

Be it resolved that the member for North Central Clarendon be censured for his aforementioned conduct;

And be it further resolved that this matter be and is hereby referred to the House's Committee of Privileges for its immediate determination, prior to the next sitting of the House, of the appropriate sanction against the member for North Central Clarendon by way of censure for his aforementioned conduct;

And be it further resolved that the Speaker shall recuse himself from the hearing of this matter by the House's Committee of Privileges, given the clear conflict of interest that his presence would involve.”


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