Political wranglings over which side of the Lower House of Assembly to nominate a deputy speaker will be no more as steps have been taken to ensure that the position is filled, once the House meets for the first time after a general election.
Legislators, this week, voted and approved a Bill to amend the Constitution, in order to ensure the post of Deputy Speaker is compulsorily occupied and any vacancy thereafter is filled.
In tabling the motion, Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre noted that the Bill was intended to shield the constitution from abuse and uphold its integrity.
“This constitutional amendment is to end the violation of Article 36 of the constitution that has taken place for more than five years in this honourabale house,” declared PM Pierre, at Tuesday’s House sitting.
The prime minster assured that the government is set “on doing it the right way.”
Former Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for Vieux Fort South, Dr. Kenny Anthony said because of this so called “tragedy” the onus is on government “to amend the document like a constitution to protect the country. We are now faced with the situation, where we have to protect the Constitution of this country from that kind of eventuality, and that kind of problem.”
He said this piece of legislation had to be implemented since the former prime minister “disobeyed, disregarded with impunity a convention that had existed in this House that if the opposition declined a nomination of appointing a deputy speaker, the responsibility was that of the government of the day to honour the letter and spirit of the Constitution.”
The Micoud South MP continued, “That Constitution must never be abused by any sitting prime minister again …and this government is right to close the loophole and never let it happen again.”
Additionally, stated Dr. Anthony, “We have a duty in the house to guard against (the) possibility that any constitution will be flouted in the manner that it was (done) by the member for Micoud South.”
Consequently, as per the amendment, the Deputy Speaker may be elected from either the members of the House who are not members of parliament (MPs) or parliamentary secretaries or among persons who are not members of the House.
In his rebuttal, Opposition Leader Allen Chastanet contended that it was the duty of parliament to elect a deputy speaker and that his administration, during their stint of office (2016 to 2021) were under no obligation to elect an MP to that post.
Said Chastanet: “Who is responsible for electing a deputy speaker? The entity for electing a deputy speaker is parliament.”
To substantiate this point, he argued, “If all members of the house on the government side are put into Cabinet or are parliamentary secretaries, it goes that it must come from the opposition.