PM Douglas says opposition parliamentarians behaving ‘childish’ for refusing to accept nomination as deputy speaker

Concerned Citizens Movement/People’s Action Movement opposition coalition senator, the Hon. Vincent Byron Jr. who refused to accept nomination as Deputy Speaker of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly.

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, DECEMBER 13TH 2012 (CUOPM) – The bill for increasing the number of senators, which would have allowed the election of a Deputy Speaker in the St. Kitts and Nevis National assembly.

Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas speaking on his weekly radio programme “Ask the Prime Minister” on Tuesday, said according to the Constitution and Rules of the lawmaking body, the Deputy Speaker cannot be a Minister of Government.

“So we needed to have a senator who is not a Minister. The Bill was designed really to increase the number of senators, giving one to the opposition, and two senators to the government and one of those two senators on the government benches, if the opposition continued to refuse to allow one of their own to become deputy speaker, then the government would have allowed one of its new senators to become the deputy speaker,” Prime Minister Douglas explained to a caller.

“Whether this would happen next year I do not know,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who added:

“This is because I must be frank with you, one does not know. The opposition has taken the position that it must close the parliament down, in the sense that there is a motion of no confidence against the government, and if that motion is won, then of course the parliament is closed down,” said Dr. Douglas.

He said the government can correct this problem in only one of two ways.

” It can ask the opposition to become involved and accept the responsibility of the deputy Speaker as was done in the past, or the government will increase the cooperate with the government and is acting very childishly on this particular matter,” said Dr. Douglas.

He said current Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Hon. Patrice Nisbett is really a cut above others on the Opposition benches.

“When the Honourable Patrice Nisbett was on the opposition benches, he accepted in good faith. Hon. Patrice Nisbett was not a member of the Labour Government; he was not a member of the Labour Party, but him being elected to serve in the Federal Parliament, recognized that there was an important responsibility that had to be carried out and with maturity and goodwill, he responded positively to the nomination in the House to become the Deputy Speaker and he did,” said the St. Kitts and Nevis leader.

Dr. Douglas told the caller that the Government has asked the current members of the Opposition.

“We met with them before the House started in March 2010 inside the Parliament itself. We had in fact suggested and nominated a member (Hon. Vincent Byron Jr.) on the opposite side. He refused. The Leader of the Opposition (Hon. Mark Brantley) had given me the assurance that he was going to get use his best office to and his best effort to encourage one of his members to take the nomination. It did not happen and as a result of that we had to do what we did in order to get the meeting of Parliament started,” he further explained.

Prime Minister Douglas pointed out that each member of the Government side in Parliament is already carrying serious ministerial responsibilities (and) to disappoint one of them, someone on the government side would have to take on those additional responsibilities and it is unfair.

“We needed all the members to carry out the functions and the services of Government. That is why we sought to correct this problem by increasing the number of senators, having two on the government side, one on the opposition side and using one of those senators on the government side to become the deputy speaker of the house,” said Dr. Douglas.

He said the illness of the Speaker last week Friday, brings home the point very clearly that there is need for a Deputy Speaker because the speaker could have been ill, would not have come to Parliament, but the Parliament would have continued because there would have been a deputy speaker to carry out the roles and responsibilities of the Speaker as his deputy.

“That is what the government is seeking to do. Finding a solution, but it can’t do it by itself. It must do it with the cooperation of the entire House and that is what is not forthcoming,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

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