Opposition heads to court over Deputy Speaker issue

The opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) is heading to court over the issue of the non-appointment of a Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, SLP leader, Philip J. Pierre has said.

Pierre recalled that the opposition did not nominate anyone to the position.

He told reporters that the government has a majority in the house and appointments of a Deputy Speaker have always been made from the government side.

Pierre accused the Allen Chastanet led administration of wanting to make every government  MP a minister.

“There is no back bench – it is actually a shame for our parliament not to have any back bench in that every parliamentarian is a minister,” he asserted, adding that the opposition feels that the government should choose one of its own to fill the Deputy Speaker position as former Prime Ministers, Sir John Compton, Doctor Kenny Anthony and Stephenson King did.

The Castries East MP said if the government refuses to yield, the SLP will be taking the matter to court.

“It is already in the hands of our legal people, but as you know the wheels of justice grind slowly so we have been very patient,” Pierre stated.

However he made it clear that the opposition will not be nominating anyone to be Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly.

“The matter will be going  to court,” Pierre said.

Last year the government and the opposition traded accusations over the issue of the non-appointment of a Deputy Speaker.

When a new session of parliament convened  no nominations were forthcoming even though House Speaker, Leonne Theodore-John, issued three invitations.

Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, proposed a ten minute adjournment to confer with the leader of the opposition.

When the house reconvened, Castries Central MP, Sarah Flood-Beaubrun was nominated and elected.

However Flood-Beaubrun  subsequently resigned the position to take up an appointment as Minister  in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service effective Monday, July 25, 2016, leaving the post of Deputy Speaker vacant.

Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, said at the time that the language that is used in the constitution for the Deputy Speaker notes that if the Deputy Speaker resigns, then a new Deputy Speaker shall be elected as soon as is convenient.

He said while a Deputy Speaker was required for the opening of parliament,  it was clear that the Deputy Speaker is not required for the government or the opposition to proceed.