Opposition leader clears the air on Deputy Speaker issue

Opposition leader, Philip J. Pierre, has responded to government criticism of his party over its failure to nominate a Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly.

He asserted that the Deputy Speaker fills in when the Speaker is not available.

Pierre explained that there is no historical precedent which indicates that the position has to be filled by the opposition.

He observed that the last Deputy Speaker was Doctor Desmond Long who was at the time an MP for the then ruling Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP).

Pierre recalled that at the time the then opposition United Workers Party (UWP) refused to take on the position.

He told the Times that his party could not facilitate the government solving its internal problem of all its elected members wanting to be ministers.

“That is the crux of the problem,” the SLP leader declared.

He explained that the SLP could not, in good conscience, put more pressure on the public purse by facilitating every one of the eleven elected members of the ruling UWP plus four Senators becoming government ministers.

He said:

“What does the Deputy Speaker do? The Deputy Speaker does not get involved in policy or the creation of laws, but presides in the parliament when the Speaker is not there.”

The government through the Prime Minister’s Attache, Nancy Charles, has expressed disappointment in the opposition for not nominating the Deputy Speaker when parliament convened for a new session.

Charles suggested that the opposition was not acting in a “grown up” manner and did not want to work with the government.

When the question of electing a Deputy Speaker was put to the house, there was no response on three occasions.

This prompted Prime Minister – Allen Chastanet, to propose an adjournment for ten minutes to confer with the leader of the opposition.

When the house reconvened, ruling party MP – Sarah Flood-Beaubrun was nominated and elected.

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