The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sir Gerald Watt has made a ruling
on an issue raised by the Leader of the Opposition, Jamale Pringle, over the
validity of Sir Robin Yearwood’s presence in the House.
Pringle has made the point on more than one occasion, that during the swearing in
ceremony in February, Sir Robin, who was elected as Deputy Speaker of the House
swore the Oath as required, but that he failed to sign his name to the document as
the Standing Orders dictate.
The Opposition Leader first raised it when he delivered his Budget Presentation on
March 9 and he again raised it prior to the close of Wednesday’s proceedings.
At that time, both the Attorney General and the Speaker refuted the claim and it
was even indicated by the Clerk of Parliament that the member did in fact sign the
book as was the requirement.
The matter seemed not to have satisfied Pringle, so when the House resumed its
sitting on Thursday morning, the Speaker sought to give a final ruling on the
matter. He asked Pringle to restate his claim and asked the AG to respond before
he made his ruling.
The Opposition Leader repeated the assertion that Sir Robin said the oath, but that
he failed to subscribe (sign). “For any member to participate in any business of the
house, they must not only take the oath, according to Section 6 of the Standing
Orders, the member must do both things. This is not a matter of merely wanting to
be contentious, because if we are going to be doing things in this honourable
House, it must be done properly. Just simply to acknowledge an error and correct
it, you, Mr. Speaker, were sitting right there when the AG went off. I simply came
here to inquire, where do we go from here with that matter. I asked you to do your
investigations and get back to me,” he stated.
The Speaker then turned to Pringle and asked, “If it is, that what you are saying is
right, what turns on that, how can it be remedied?” In response, the Opposition
Leader said his understanding of the rules is that the member cannot participate in
any business of the House.
Called to respond, Benjamin stated that after considering the points made by
Pringle, he found that they were without merit. He explained, utilizing the Standing
Orders, that the first Order of Business is the election of the Speaker and a Deputy
Speaker, and in order for one to be deputy speaker, that person must first be a
member of the House. He then went into detail to explain that the opposition
member’s claims were not grounded on sound arguments.
In his ruling, The Speaker consulted the register where Dean Jonas signed in 2014,
Londel Benjamin signed in 2018 and he added that he even checked a video
recording of the matter and that he was satisfied that Sir Robin did sign. Further, he
noted that all the members of the opposition debated the budget and at no time
objected to the presence of Sir Robin in the House. “Consequently, the budget
completed and the legal principle applies here, you cannot approbate and
reprobate, that is, you cannot accept the he was right to participate in the budget
debate, voted on the budget and now want to raise this matter at the end. I rule that
Sir Robin did what was required and that the matter is now settled and to be
recorded in Hansard,” the Speaker declared.