Former Speaker of the Saint Lucia House of Assembly, Rosemary Husbands-Mathurin, has asserted that according to the constitution, once a Speaker of the House of Assembly is in place meetings of the house are valid.
Husbands-Mathurin made the comments against the backdrop of the ongoing controversy over the non-appointment of a Deputy Speaker, a matter which the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) is in the process of challenging in court.
“I think even the law says that, once there is a quorum and there is a chair then the meeting is valid,” Husbands-Mathurin told reporters yesterday.
She said it would be beneficial if there is a Deputy Speaker so that the business of the house can continue in the event that the Speaker is unavailable.
“One has to wait until, as the constitution says, it is convenient for all parties involved to name a Deputy Speaker,” the former Speaker asserted.
Asked about the opposition’s court challenge, Husbands-Mathurin declared that it was incumbent on the opposition SLP to name a Deputy since all parties should be part of the process.
The SLP has made it clear that it will not nominate any of its 6 elected MPs for the position.
Former SLP leader, Doctor Kenny Anthony, who is a Constitutional Lawyer by profession, has argued that sometimes at the level of parliament, not just the words of the constitution but the practices surrounding those words ought to be considered.
He noted that traditionally, the Deputy Speaker has been appointed from among the ranks of elected MPs on the government side and explained that for the opposition to provide a Deputy would diminish its voting power in the event that a crucial matter were to come before the house.
Anthony has asserted that without the appointment of a Deputy Speaker, the House of Assembly is improperly constituted.
Rosemary Husbands-Mathurin told reporters that it was unfortunate that the business of the house has to be conducted without a Deputy Speaker, but said it does not affect the business of the house.
She recalled that during her tenure as Speaker the opposition had walked out of parliament.
“I called on the government : ‘Please nominate your deputy’. I called on the Independents – at that time we had two Independents – Jeannine Compton as well as Marcus Nicholas, who before that was the Deputy Speaker and had resigned,” Husbands-Mathurin said.
She noted that there were no nominations forthcoming.
“So I continued with the business of the people – that is the important thing, there is someone in the chair, there is a quorum – let us continue with the business of the people,” the former house Speaker stated.