Gordon House will be closed until NovemberTuesday, September 29, 2020
BY BALFORD HENRY
Newly appointed Leader of the House of Representatives Edmund Bartlett says that the renovation of Gordon House to accommodate members through the COVID-19 crisis will take at least another four to five weeks.
This means that the new Parliament, which had its last meeting on September 15 at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, is likely to continue with its makeshift accommodation until about mid-November.
“It is a modernisation of the Parliament to make it responsive to the demands of our democracy, and also to be able to utlilise technology to enable a high level of participation of the members,” Bartlett told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
He said that by using the technology, Gordon House would be able to hold meetings of the House, the Senate and their committees in a virtual environment, as members would be able to participate from wherever they are located.
“... I am committed to a modernisation strategy, which is going to look at other specifics, given the new technologies that are available that will enable greater participation by members,” he said.
“We have a small team of MPs from both sides working together on planning the improvements, and we hope to complete the process in time,” he added.
Meanwhile, the highlight of today's meeting will be the swearing-in of three MPs whose fates were undecided up to September 15 when the new Parliament was sworn in, as the magisterial recounting of the ballots from their constituencies had been incomplete. They are Lisa Hanna of the People's National Party (PNP), St Ann South Eastern; Phillip Henriques, Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Clarendon North Western; and Daniel Lawrence (JLP), Westmoreland Eastern.
At the same time, members on both sides are also expected to pay tribute to late PNP Cabinet Minister Dr D K Duncan, who died on September 17.
Statements are to be made by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Minister of Education, Youth and Information Fayval Williams.
Four items that had fallen off the table when the previous Parliament was dissolved to accommodate the September 3 General Election are to be tabled again.
In the meantime, three Bills — The Sexual Harassment Act, 2020; The Dogs (Liability for Attacks) Act, 2020; and the Authentication (Foreign Public Documents) Act, 2020 — as well as the Spring Garden (Irrigation Area) Order, 2020 — will be tabled again by the responsible ministers.
Speaker of the House is Marisa Dalrymple Phillibert (Trelawny Southern); and her deputy is Juliet Holness (St Andrew East Rural). The Leader of Opposition Business is Phillip Paulwell (East Kingston and Port Royal).