From The Office Of The Leader Of The Progressive Liberal Party
This afternoon we are here to support our colleague Glenys Hanna Martin MP for Englerston in her just fight to represent the people of Englerston.
You will no doubt recall that Mrs. Hanna Martin is one of four Members of Parliament for the Progressive Liberal Party in the House of Assembly and the only woman representing our party in that body. This places upon her and all Members of the House for the PLP a special responsibility to speak up forcefully and fully for an on behalf of the 36 per cent of the electorate who voted for the PLP and for those in particular who voted for her to be their voice in Parliament.
Recalling that the naming and suspending emanates from the Member’s attempt to protect the jobs of two single women with children who were unceremoniously dismissed from their jobs.
The party recognises that the Speaker of the House has a supervisory jurisdiction over the House and we also recognise the need for public decorum. However, the House of Assembly is not a classroom. It is the High Court of Parliament and it is the freest forum in the country. It is so free that the constitution provides and protects two ancient privileges.
These privileges are freedom of speech and freedom from arrest. This means that nothing can or should be done to impede the right of a member to speak freely no matter how vigorously and that member should not be arrested in seeking to get to Parliament to speak.
The actions of the Speaker of the House of Assembly in naming and suspending the member for what appears an indeterminate amount of time without what seems to us a fair opportunity to be heard has therefore breached that privilege of freedom of speech. He has, in making the ruling that he has, also denied the voice of the people of Englerston in Parliament. This is therefore a very serious matter.
Rule 88 of the Rules of Procedure of the House requires a motion being made by the Leader of The House which us to be voted upon to enable suspension.
To be named and suspended, the member has to have committed the offences set out in the Rules.
The party therefore supports all lawful actions by Mrs. Hanna Martin to ensure that this denial of her right to represent her people is reversed.
I have read the transcripts of the exchanges. What comes to mind is the legal doctrine of proportionality. The Speaker’s response is out of all proportion to any supposed offence. The Speaker’s jurisdiction should be exercised permissively and not like a disciplinarian. He is to act fairly and judiciously. None of these seem to apply.
I am also constrained to say that it appears that it is the penchant for FNM Speakers it seems to be troubled by Mrs. Hanna Martin’s advocacy. We have only to remember that Alvin Smith did a similar thing when he was Speaker.
Given the evident patriarchy which continues to exist in so many forums of our country, one wonders also whether there is not a bit of misogyny operating here. I would hope not and therefore urge the Speaker to resile from his position and allow Mrs. Hanna Martin to take her seat to represent her people.