Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir, on Wednesday upbraided Members of the National Assembly over their conduct in the House.
At the beginning of the sitting on Wednesday morning, the Speaker reminded members of some long-established parliamentary protocols regarding practices in the House.
“When the person in this Chair – the Speaker – speaks, whoever is speaking at the time gives way. The Speaker recognises people when to speak. We had at least two instances where the Chair and a member have had exchanges, causing the Speaker to stand,” he noted.
Additionally, the House Speaker also raised the issue of dress code. He pointed out to members that the Handbook for Parliamentarians addresses this issue, outlining the format and mild colours to be worn.
Speaker Nadir went on to address the display across the floor in the National Assembly as well.
Parliamentary sittings are currently being held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown, to allow for adequate social distancing among members.
“Our Convention Centre is acoustically designed to amplify our voices, so those of us with loud voices, we may have to tone down the volume of it, because it would appear as if you’re shouting; and if four or five of us shout, it will send a bad example to the nation with respect to how we conduct our business,” he stressed.
The Speaker noted that he has had great cooperation from the Chief Whips on both sides of the House thus far, and looks forward to this continued cooperation from everyone.
Meanwhile, less than two hours after the Speaker’s reprimand, Opposition Member of Parliament the former Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson was asked to apologise to his successor, Public Works Minister Juan Eghill, after calling him a liar.
The incident occurred while Minister Eghill was responding to questions on the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion in the Committee of Supply, which was considering the estimates for the Public Works Ministry at the time.
Whilst on the floor, Edghill was heckled by Patterson, who called him a “liar”.
The Public Works Minister then demanded an apology from his predecessor.
“Mr Chairman, I require an apology from this member, who’s referring to me as a liar, because I will speak of him in the most degrading manner if he does not withdraw it. Mr Speaker, I demand an apology from the Honourable David Patterson for referring to me as a liar, because I will expose him here today, sir,” Edghill posited.
Patterson was then called upon to apologise. The Speaker indicated that this was the third time he had observed Patterson using the word “liar” in the House.
“I think you ought to offer not only the Honourable Member (Edghill), but the entire House an apology,” Nadir stated. However, the Opposition MP would only withdraw his remark after repeatedly being asked by the Speaker to apologise. After refusing to apologise, Speaker Nadir indicated that the House would have to deal with the matter.
Only last week Thursday, the Speaker had also reprimanded Parliamentarians for conducting themselves outside the rules of the House. That was during the debates on the 2020 Emergency Budget, when members were hurling words such as “Shut up!” and “shut your mouth!”
At the time, Nadir had urged that members act in a mature manner when heckling across the room.
“While we do exercise fairness and patience and impartiality, we have to be guided by the rules that exist,” the Speaker had stated. (G8)