HEAT IN THE HOUSE
VOICES WERE RAISED.
Tantrums were thrown. People were asked to leave because of disorderly conduct. People walked out in protest.
And it all happened in the House of Assembly yesterday.
The melee resulted in the ejection of two members of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) for the remainder of the day’s sitting by Speaker of the House, Michael Carrington, a move that saw every Opposition MP walk out in protest.
Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley and St Andrew MP, George Payne, were first asked to leave at 10:50 a.m. after both were involved in a heated exchange with the Speaker.
But neither left their seats immediately, an act which forced Carrington to rise from his chair and ask the marshals to forcibly remove Mottley and Payne if they had to.
“Please remove those two members,” he ordered.
“You have time and time again refused to listen to the chair. In my view, you have been most disrespectful,” Carrington had previously warned Payne, also telling him the matter he wanted to raise could not be raised at that time.
Mottley also rose on a point of privilege, and she, too, was snubbed by the Speaker.
“Honourable Member, please take your seat. I am dealing with a matter,” Carrington stressed.
After sitting for a few seconds, Mottley rose to file her motion again, and was asked to sit again by the Speaker. She did not, and was also asked to leave.
“Do not be afraid,” Carrington told the marshals, who had paused momentarily at the Opposition benches as Mottley and Payne stood their ground.
“Remove them from this Honourable House,” the Speaker asserted, as Democratic Labour Party MPs shouted: “Put them out!”.
The two eventually packed up their belongings at 10:56 a.m. and exited, six minutes after they had been first asked to leave.
Payne had an opportunity to remain in his seat, having been offered the option of apologising to the Speaker for repeated loud outbursts across the floor, but refused, responding: “For what?” directed at the Speaker, a move which prompted Carrington to ask him to exit the chamber a first time.
All the while, the noise level within the chamber had risen sharply, as politicians from both sides of the aisle engaged in verbal banter with each other in full view of a full and apparently shocked public gallery.
The fireworks began moments after the morning session began at 10:17 a.m., when Mottley attempted to raise as a matter of urgent public importance, the report of CLICO writing over 800 policies after the Supervisor of Insurance, in August last year, had prohibited the company from writing new business.
Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur also tried to get in his two cents’ worth during the impasse, but was not recognised, and eventually retook his seat.
Prime Minister David Thompson was not in his usual seat to the direct right of the Speaker.
Also absent was Minister of Economic Affairs Dr David Estwick, who last week denied brandishing a gun and threatening Deputy Opposition Leader Dale Marshall. Independent MP Hamilton Lashley was also absent.
Before the other Opposition MPs walked out after the Speaker’s actions, Marshall provided his version of the events of March 19, when the altercation between himself and Estwick occurred on the final day of the Estimates debate.
He said Estwick brandished a firearm and threatened him after also threatening to slap him across the head.
Upon leaving the chamber, the Opposition MPs went to the West Wing, where Mottley chaired a Press conference to protest their ejection.
Yesterday’s fireworks came one week after Opposition MPs boycotted the Lower Chamber. They returned yesterday with the intention of bringing to the fore their insistence that a firearms policy be set for Parliament.