Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira has accused Speaker of the House, Dr Barton Scotland of going beyond his remit to do things to stymie the Opposition’s business on several counts in Parliament.
The Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) told the media on Saturday that this “noticeable behaviour” is becoming more blatant and it has not gone unnoticed by the Opposition.
“The Speaker has a habit now in the last year, of every single question or motion we bring to the Parliament is radically edited by him,” she explained.
Teixeira has said that this is a major undermining of the parliamentary Opposition’s role, and this could only be seen as a one-sided move, which may continue to happen in Parliament.
“The Speaker has given himself an editorial role and in fact in a correspondence he said certain paragraphs and be it not resolved clauses are removed as unnecessary in his opinion,” she added.
The Opposition MP explained that there is no standing order which allows the Speaker such discretion. In fact, once these questions or motions are not libelous or offensive, it should not be removed.
“We have been explaining our disagreements but accepting the amendments so that the motions can get on the order paper so that the public can hear,” she added.
Using the questions about the Camp Street Prison unrest as an example, Teixeira said that is a classic example where the Speaker again removed a large number of paragraphs.
Only recently, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo accused the Speaker of taking a partisan stand on several issues and even described him as the 34th MP of the coalition Government. He maintained that the Speaker should have been an independent arbiter.
“Almost any matter that seeks to question the Government, to hold them to account, he rules in their favour. Now when you look at the debates in Parliament, almost every single matter the Government gets its way,” he lamented, reminding supporters that Scotland did not find a debate on the future of sugar an issue of national importance. The Speaker has come in for heavy criticism over the past two years and has indeed shut down several motions presented by the Opposition, claiming that they were not urgent or important.