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House Speaker ditches opposition plan for possible disciplinary action against 22 govt parliamentarians

Last Updated on Monday, 31 January 2022, 10:39 by Denis Chabrol

A replica of the mace before the Speaker Manzoor Nadir before Governance Minister Gail Teixeira put the question for the National Resource Fund Bill to be read a third time. (file picture)

House Speaker Manzoor Nadir on Monday scuttled a plan by the opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) to send 22 government parliamentarians to a parliamentary disciplinary committee for the raucous behavior in the National Assembly’s chamber.

“The motion will not proceed because a prima facie case was not established ,” he told the Assembly moments before day one of debate on the 2022 National Budget.

He said that “you cannot bring a legal action for an illegal action in the first place.”

Mr. Nadir made known his decision on the motion, days after he gave the green light for a government-sponsored motion for eight opposition parliamentarians to be sent to the Privileges Committee for the December 29, 2021 chaos.

Opposition parliamentarian, Annette Ferguson has already publicly admitted grabbing the mace because she had become so frustrated that the government had refused to consider requests by civil society and the opposition for  debate on the new wealth fund legislation to be pushed back.

Government had cited  Ms. Ferguson and Mr. Vinceroy Jordon for removing the mace from the dais. “Whereas Honourable Members Annette Ferguson and Vinceroy Jordan further committed breaches of privilege by forcefully, unauthorisedly and in a disorderly fashion removing the mace from its rightful position and attempting to remove it from the Chamber, thereby creating grave disorder and chaos which resulted in injuries to a member of staff of the Parliament Office and damage to the mace,” she said.

Government further accused Ms. Tabitha Sarabo-Halley of committing contempt and breaches of privilege by unauthorisedly entering the communications control room of the Arthur Chung Control Centre, a part of the Chamber, and “destroyed several pieces of audio-visual equipment, being public property, with the intention to disrupt the sound and Internet connection so as to affect the Assembly from conducting its lawful business.”

The opposition has contended that the new Natural Resource Fund Act was not properly passed because the recognised mace not before the House Speaker and so the sitting was not properly in session. Further, the opposition has argued that several  government parliamentarians, including Prime Minister Mark Phillips, had not been seated when Governance and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Gail Teixeira had put the Bill to a vote.