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Craig: House needed cooling

Barry Alleyne

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ONE OF THIS COUNTRY’S most outspoken former politicians believes Speaker of the House Michael Carrington’s expelling of two Opposition members from the Lower Chamber on Tuesday should have been a last resort.
But what former Member of Parliament Lionel Craig wants to really know is why Carrington did not suspend the morning’s sitting and invoke a “cooling-off period” before expelling Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and her Barbados Labour Party colleague George Payne.
Mottley and Payne were asked to leave the Lower Chamber on Tuesday, after a heated exchange with Speaker Carrington.
Mottley was attempting to raise a matter of urgent public importance regarding the decision by local insurance company CLICO to write more than 800 policies in contravention of the Supervisor of Insurance’s August 2009 decision prohibiting the ompany from writing new business.
“An expulsion from the House is a serious thing, and should only be a last resort,” Craig, the former Member of Parliament for St James North told the WEEKEND NATION.
“I believe the Speaker should have made the decision, under the circumstances, to request from the Leader of Government Business [Chris Sinckler] that the House be suspended for about 20 minutes as a cooling period.
He could have simply then requested the Opposition Leader to come to his office, and handle the matter, before returning to the chamber to deal with the people’s business.”
Craig, who served 20 years in the House of Assembly, ten as a Government MP, and ten on the Opposition benches, believes Carrington could easily have cooled tempers by suspending the House for 15 to 20 minutes, and then having a private word with Mottley in his office before resuming his position as chair of the House of Assembly.
However, Craig doesn’t believe democracy is under threat, despite the unruly behaviour shown in the House from both sides.
In fact, he feels Barbadians should not take anything serious from Tuesday’s proceedings.
“The Parliament of Barbados is not ‘holier than thou’. There have been instances where much worse has happened in Parliament before, not just in Barbados, but in other countries around the world,” Craig told the WEEKEND NATION.
The former MP noted that Barbadians should not be too concerned about the general behaviour in Parliament, since it was much more robust and controversial in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
He did note, however, that he was concerned about the general overuse of desk-thumping and applause in the House for simple matters, noting that in his heyday, applause and desk-thumping were reserved for the Estimates or special sittings of the House of Assembly.